Updated: Sep 12, 2019
Author Lucinda Nicholas
Making the decision to enter aged care is not an easy one. This decision generally means you or someone you are responsible for are not able to easily maintain independence any longer and require more support physically or medically. The most common road block we see is potential residents and their families having to make a last minute decision to seek a permanent residency at an aged care facility, generally after something has happened (for instance a fall) making the move inevitable.
This can be overwhelming and cause stress to everyone involved. Often a family member will call the preferred facility, only to find out that there is not only no vacancies and a waiting list, but many requirements that need to be finalised. Many people are unaware that these requirements and expectations can be completed well before the decision is made to move into care, helping prepare families and potential residents in advance so the transition can be smooth and less stressful.
So what should be at the top of your list when thinking about the possibility of an aged care facility for yourself or a loved one?
Aged Care Assessment
An Aged Care Assessment is an assessment to ensure that a resident is eligible and approved for government-funded services including aged care. Without this assessment the facility will not receive any funding to assist with care (most facilities are government subsidised, so the assessment will be needed).
This assessment can be organised through My Aged Care (government website), your Doctor or the Aged Care Assessment Team. My Aged Care has a wealth of information regarding transitioning to aged care and is worth having a look at in preparedness, for more information head over to https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/ . Without an assessment the facility still may be able to assist with care, however this will be fully funded by the resident and may exceed $250 per day depending on your care needs (care needs are assessed by the facility).
Income and Asset Assessment
Income and Asset Assessment is completed by the resident or delegate and then reviewed by the Department of Human Services who will determine how fees will be structured when moving to care. For more information have a look here https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/forms/sa457.
When considering aged care, it is important that fee structures and expectations are understood. Often there is an expectation of an upfront deposit that changes from facility to facility. Seeking advice from a financial professional who is specialised within aged care is highly recommended and should be seen before admission to care. Depending on the individual situations, decisions can be made to reduce fees and maximise pensions. These decisions need to be finalised before completing an Income and Asset Assessment and entering aged care. All assessments are made at the date of entry and cannot be back dated.
Choosing a Facility
Generally aged care facilities have a waiting list so it is important to understand the requirements expected to get your name on the list. Facilities may want to conduct an interview to ensure financial expectations are understood and that care needs can be catered for.
Facilities will not put you on the list if they believe you are not a good match, and generally this will be discussed during or after the interview.
During your visit facilities should allow you to have a tour so you can get a feel for the atmosphere, any activities happening and of course staff. Lots of questions should be asked whilst you are either in the interview or on the tour, this is so you understand how the facility generally runs (make a list in preparation before you go, if you can’t think of anything here is a great start https://www.agedcare101.com.au/aged-care/applications/ask-the-right-questions-when-you-visit).
Finally, try to look past the aesthetics of the areas. Brand new facilities can look lovely, however if staff are not competent or if the clinical systems are not in place then the care will not meet your expectations.
End of Life
End of life is a hard topic to talk about and generally we don’t want to have the conversations that are needed. Not all aged care facilities will care for you once you move to higher care or palliative.
Specifically wanting to move to one facility for the final years is fine if you have checked that they will cater for end of life. Advanced care directives are also important to discuss with family and the facility.
Advanced Directives describe how someone wants to live their last days. Aged Care Facilities require an Advanced Directive for each resident, if this has never been spoken about it can be hard to complete.
Doctors can also assist with advice and assistance in completing an advanced care directive. For a comprehensive information regarding Advanced Directives please have a look at