Aged care assessment explained

Arranging an aged care assessment can be daunting for all concerned, so being prepared is the best way to minimise stress.

If you’re about to start seeking aged care support for you or a loved one, it is likely that you will meet with an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), or within Victoria, Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS), which is responsible for conducting the assessment.

The Australian Government provides funding for older Australians to access care and support in their own home, or to take up residence in an aged care facility. To help determine the type of support you will need and funding package applicable, an aged care assessment must be carried out.

An ACAT should be contacted if:

  • a package of support at home is needed
  • an incident, such as a fall, has led your health professional to recommend you seek support options
  • living at home has become difficult and you feel you might benefit from living in an aged care facility
  • you only need temporary assistance as you recover, following discharge from hospital (up to 12 weeks).

Your doctor, nurse or social worker can talk you through what’s involved when you contact an ACAT, the type of assistance which is generally available and can even contact an ACAT for you.

The Assessment
The ACAT can conduct assessments in your home or at the hospital and you are encouraged to have a carer, family member or friend at the meeting with you.

You will usually meet someone from a team of health professionals who will ask you questions about the daily life you lead, what you can or can’t do, and how you think you might benefit from extra support.

You will also be asked about your general health or specific health conditions, and the ACAT member will ask you for your permission to speak to your treating doctor about your health history.

During the meeting, the ACAT member will also discuss services which might be available to you. You will be asked if you want to apply for aged care support, depending upon approval, and you will be required to sign an application form.

After the assessment you will be sent a letter explaining the type of support and financial assistance that you are eligible to access. Your completed aged care assessment will be valid for a period of time before you need to actually commence your services – this will vary across the states.

Your rights
At any point during the process you can:

  • ask for more information about the assessment process
  • ask why you have to give certain information or answer particular questions
  • request a translator ahead of the scheduled meeting time (ACAT will arrange this)
  • have a support person at the assessment
  • have an independent advocate present to act on your behalf or help advise you.

If you are not happy with the way your aged care assessment went or the final recommendation, you can speak to ACAT to lodge a complaint or appeal the decision.

For more information, contact the Government’s My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or visit the ACAT online finder.  

Written by Debbie McTaggart