Moving into an Aged Care Facility

Do I have to move into Aged Care?

Apart from perhaps purchasing your first home, deciding to move into aged care can be one of the biggest and most daunting decisions you will make. However as you grow older, you may find that you need more help with simple day-to-day tasks or your health care. This may especially be the case if you live alone.

You may need help because of illness, disability or because your family and friends can no longer provide the amount of care that you need. Residential aged care facilities can provide assistance with day-to-day tasks including personal care.

That said, no one can force you to move into aged care if you don’t want to. It may be that care can be provided for you in your home by a home care organisation. It may even be possible to arrange to go to an aged care facility during the day for day care but then return to your own home at night time. The options available to you will very much depend on the services available in your area and the level and amount of care that you need.

What alternatives are there to moving to Aged Care?

There are a number of alternatives to aged care depending on your circumstances, location and financial resources.

There are many services available to help you stay in your own home. This is dependant of course, on where you live and what services are available in your local area.

  • The Home and Community Care (HACC) program is available if you require basic home help.
    • This program is funded by the Government and is suitable for older people who are able to live and cope on their own but don’t yet need higher levels of care. A basic assessment is required to be undertaken to determine whether this program is suitable for you;
    • The services provided include centre-based day care which provides social activities and transport options to help you get to the shops or appointments. HACC services can also provide domestic assistance, such as cleaning and clothes washing as well as personal care and home maintenance support; and
    • The Government funds the service providers and there is usually a small fee for each service with the amount payable depending on your income and what services you need.
  • Home Care Packages provides a co-ordinated package of services to target your specific care needs.
    • The types of services provided will depend on your needs including, personal services (help showering or bathing), support services (washing, ironing, gardening etc.) and clinical care (such as nursing and other health support);
    • There is no minimum age to access Home Care Packages but you will need to be assessed as eligible by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) (this is explained further below);
    • There are varying levels of packages available depending on whether you need help with basic care or a higher level of care; and
    • The Government pays for the bulk of aged care in Australia, but you will also be required to contribute towards this cost which may include a basic fee of up to 17.5% of the single basic Age Pension and an income-tested fee if your income is over a certain amount.

Do I need to be assessed before I move into Aged Care?

If you need help at home or will be moving into aged care, you will be required to undertake a free assessment with the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). An ACAT member will talk to you about your current circumstances and work out whether you will be able to receive government-subsidised aged care services.

The Assessment will help identify what types of care you need or whether you are able to stay at home. They will also discuss what options you have available in your local area.

Paying for Aged Care:  What is a Daily Accommodation Payment and a Refundable Accommodation Deposit?

How much you pay at an aged care facility towards you accommodation will depend entirely on your financial circumstances. The Government will conduct an assessment of your income and assets and then advise you and the aged care facility if you can be asked to pay towards your accommodation costs.

If you are required to make payments towards your accommodation, you have a choice about how you pay. You can choose either:

  1. A lump sum payment called a “refundable accommodation deposit” (“RAD”);
  2. A rental-type payment called a “daily accommodation payment” (“DAP”); or
  3. A combination of a RAD and a DAP.

You will be given 28 days from the day you enter care to decide on the method of payment. Until you decide how you would like to pay, you will need to pay your accommodation costs as a DAP.

A RAD works like an interest-free loan to an aged care facility and the balance is refunded when you leave the home minus any amounts you have agreed to have deducted. Alternatively, a DAP is periodic payments which is based on a daily rate and are usually paid in instalments up to a month in advance as agreed with your service provider. These payments are not usually refundable. Before making a decision about how to pay for your accommodation you should seek financial and legal advice to help you make the best decision.

In addition, for residents who have low means, a lesser amount will be payable called an Accommodation Contribution. Whether you will be required to pay an Accommodation Payment or Accommodation Contribution will be assessed by the Department of Human Services or if applicable, the Department of Veteran affairs.

What is a Residential Care Agreement? 

A Residential Care Agreement is a written contract between you and the aged care provider. It provides details about the services, fees, rights and responsibilities applicable to you and the aged care facility. It is a legal agreement.

The Residential Care Agreement should include the following:

  • The name of the aged care facility;
  • The policies and practices in relation to fees and charges;
  • The daily fee amount you will be asked to pay;
  • Any extra services that you have agreed to receive and the costs;
  • Your rights and responsibilities as a resident;
  • Circumstances where you might be asked to leave and how the facility will find you somewhere else appropriate; and
  • How the facility will deal with complaints.

You should seek financial and legal advice before entering into any Residential Care Agreement.

What is an Accommodation Agreement?

If the service provider has asked you to pay some or all of your accommodation costs, you may be asked to enter into an Accommodation Agreement. This can be included as part of your Residential Care Agreement or may be separate.

This Agreement should include, for example:

  • The agreed accommodation price;
  • The payment options available to you (ie a RAD, DAP or a combination);
  • Other conditions of your accommodation payment, such as the amount the home will refund if you leave the home or die;

You have 28 days after moving in the aged care facility to decide how you want to pay your accommodation costs and to sign the Accommodation Agreement.

What is respite care?

Respite care is a form of support for carers to give them an opportunity to attend to everyday activities and have a break from the caring role. Respite care can happen at your home or at facilities such as an overnight respite cottage, a day centre or an aged care facility.

Aged care facilities generally allow short stays which are called ‘residential respite care’ which can be planned or in emergency situations. The aged care facility may provide a range of care and services. However, usually an ACAT assessment will be required prior to entry to assess the person’s current needs and the care required.

What is extra services care?

Residents in an aged care facility have the option to purchase additional services such as entertainment or lifestyle choices, for an extra fee. Some aged care facilities will be able to offer a certain number of residents these dedicated “extra services” which will provide a higher level of amenities and hotel like services.

These services and the applicable fees will vary so it is important to request further information from the aged care facility about these services and the fees that will apply.

Should I get advice before moving into Aged Care?

Moving into aged care is one of the biggest decisions that you will make in your lifetime. The cost of aged care can be significant and often lump sum payments will cost as much as your home. Often a move to aged care can trigger a chain of significant life events including selling the family home or cashing in investments – not to mention potential requests from aged care providers to enter into lengthy, legally binding Residential Care Agreement and in some cases requesting that relatives provide guarantees for care fees.

We recommend that prospective residents and/or their relatives or representatives obtain legal and financial advice before moving into aged care and before signing any Residential Care Agreement.

If you have any further questions or queries or would like further information about moving to aged care, please contact the dedicated team at CRH Law.