Aged Care Nursing Homes

How should I go about finding an aged care home?

By the time you are thinking about an aged home, you will likely have friends who have experience of them and first-hand information to pass on. Word of mouth is often a very reliable way to get the ‘inside story’ on an establishment.

You can also look online or ask someone else to make a list of homes in the area you would like to live.

We recommend you take time to visit several homes to see the grounds, the rooms and the culture.  Speak to the residents, out of earshot of management, to get the gist of whether residents feel fairly treated and are happy.

What can I expect from an aged home?

Aged homes may provide you with:

  • Your meals
  • Cleaning of your room and your ensuite
  • Doing your laundry
  • Your electrical needs
  • Some personal care
  • Help with bathing, dressing and walking
  • Some medical care and pharmaceutical services.

Different homes will offer different services, and you may be able to pay extra for some services.

How do I apply to enter for an aged home?

If you want to go into a state-assisted home, you need to meet with an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT, or ACAS in Victoria).  The team usually consists of a nurse, social worker and other health or mental professionals.  They will assess your needs and see whether you are eligible to go into a home.

Use this opportunity to ask any questions you may have and explore all the options around your care.  You may decide against going into a home permanently and employ a home helper instead, or go into a home for a short while only (called “respite care”).

The team will give you a letter after the assessment explaining what you qualify for.  You can show this letter to any prospective aged care home you might want to apply for.

Once you have the letter, simply ask the home for an application form and fill it in.

You may apply to as many homes as you like.

How will I know if I have been accepted?

The aged care home will contact you (or the contact person you specify).

What information do I need to give and will it be private?

You would need to provide:

  • Personal information so that the home can understand your mental and physical needs, and
  • Financial information so that the home can assess the extent to which the state will subsidize you.

Australian laws place restrictions on what information is private, and there are penalties for not complying with these rules.  These rules apply to the information residents provide to aged care homes.

What are the criteria for getting into an aged home?

Each home considers factors such as:

  • The level of care you need and whether it can offer that level
  • Your mental health needs, for example, if you have dementia or have had a stroke
  • Your cultural background
  • Your financial needs

What are the fees?

There are several fees involved, and we recommend you ask each home to explicitly itemise the fees. We also recommend that you consult a financial planner about these fees and what you can afford in the long term, and what the state will pay towards these fees.

Here is a general guideline of some fees:

  • A basic daily fee for meals, laundry etc
  • An accommodation fee (this may be fully or partly subsidised by the state, depending on your financial position)
  • A means test fee.  This is an amount that the Department of Human Services claims from you for providing aged homes.  Again, this will depend on your income.
  • Extra or additional services fees for example for any special needs you may have or if you require a bigger room.

Can I pay monthly or must I pay upfront?

There are three options for payment. You should discuss with a financial planner which options suits you best.

  • Pay upfront: You pay the whole amount upfront, a portion of which is refunded to your estate when you die.
  • Monthly: This is like a rental agreement but includes the services that you choose. Your rental payment ends when you die.
  • Upfront and monthly: This combination is also possible.

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