Find a facility
To move into a government-subsidised aged care residential service you need to have been approved by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) – called an Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) in Victoria.
You can start your search and put your name on the waiting list before your ACAT/ACAS approval, but the provider is unlikely to offer a place until the assessment has been completed.
The search may take a while, so starting sooner may reduce some time pressure.
How do I find an aged care residential service?
The first step to finding a residential service is to think about where you want to live.
Do you want to live close to your current home?
Do you want to move closer to your children?
Do you want to move to an area which has better hospital services?
Do you want to find a facility which matches your religious preferences
The next step is to make a list of the services in that area and narrow it down to a short-list of the ones you want to find out more about.
Try these services to help you make your list:
Commonwealth Carelink Centres – information about services in your area
My Aged Care – provides a find a service function on the website
Ask your friends or family if they have had any experience with aged care residential services and ask for recommendations. The ACAT/ACAS team, doctors and social workers may be able to help you to find a suitable residential service.
How do I decide if a facility is suitable?
The best way to get a feel for a residential service is to have a look around. If you have time, visit the services on your short-list. Most providers are happy to show prospective residents and families around, but you may need to make an appointment. Some residential services may hold open days throughout the year.
When you visit an aged care residential service take a pen and paper with you and make notes. How did you feel? What did you like about the service? What didn’t you like? It can be hard to remember the differences if you are visiting several services.
The Department of Health produces a booklet pack called Five Steps to Entry into an Aged Care Home. This comes with a pack that includes a checklist of questions which you may wish to ask to help compare and assess the service provided by each home you visit.
Some questions to ask or things to observe include:
Is the residential service accredited? (meets government requirements)
What is the waiting list length?
Which services are provided? (type and quality)
Location and access to local services
Which social activities are held?
Details of care services and staffing levels
The accommodation payment required
The quality of accommodation and amenities
What was the attitude of staff?
Was the service facilities clean and in good repair?
What is a placement service
If you need help to find a residential service and/or to decide if it is suitable, you may wish to use an advisory and placement service. These are private businesses which specialise in helping people to find and choose an aged care service. They generally have an awareness of where places are available and how to negotiate accommodation payments and a placement.
Available services include help to:
develop a short-list of appropriate services
select the right service based on your personal preferences, finances and family needs
arrange visits to the service so you can meet care staff and assess the standard of accommodation
complete the paperwork
work with admissions staff to keep you up to date on vacancies and your
negotiate the accommodation payments if you will struggle with published rates.
Placement services normally charge a fee based on the package of services you want them to help with.
How do I apply for a place
Once you have done the hard work to select the right residential service, you can put your name onto the waiting list.
Once you are on the waiting list, it is a matter of waiting for a place to become available. Some residential services may have long waiting lists. Others may have immediate vacancies. Just because you are at the top of the waiting list does not mean you will be offered the next place.
This article is prepared by the strategy specialists at Aged Care Steps, a company supporting financial planning advisers who provide planning advice for aged care. To find a professional adviser who specialises in aged care advice go to www.agedcaresteps.com.au and click on the Find an Adviser link.
Disclaimer: This is general advice and does not take into account your particular circumstances or objectives. Before taking any action you should seek personal financial planning, taxation or legal advice and refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before investing in any product. Aged Care Steps Pty Ltd ABN 42 156 656 843, AFSL 486723, registered tax (financial) advisers 25581502.