Aged Care A to Z Guide

Aged care is a veritable alphabet soup of acronyms. That’s the nature of the beast. For example, what does HACC, ACAT, CACPs, EACH and COTA stand for? There is also other terminology that can confuse rather than inform. What is Flexicare? What is ‘ageing in place’? The Retirement Housing & Aged Care: A to Z Guide is designed to provide comprehensive information on a raft of issues relating to the provision of aged care and accommodation in Australia.

Abbeyfield Houses, a form of low-cost independent living, were introduced in Australia as a new housing option in 1981. At that time the range of accommodation options for retired people was limited. The Abbeyfield Society buys up suitable properties, close to public transport and shops, in metropolitan or rural communities, which can be converted into suitable accommodation for older people who may be isolated and lonely “but who value their independence.

ACAT, See Aged Care Assessment Team.

Accommodation Bond is the fee for entering a hostel (low care) or extra care nursing homes. There is no set amount for the bond and no official assets test. Each bond is individually negotiated between the resident and the management, taking into account the resident’s assets. Independent legal advice should be sought by the family/carers prior to completing a resident’s agreement and accommodation bond agreement. See Enduring Power of Attorney, Enduring Guardianship, Guardianship and Residential aged care facilities.

Accommodation Charge, the fee for entering a standard nursing home (high level care). The accommodation charge is capped a $4,500 a year for a maximum of five years. Each charge is individually negotiated between the resident and the management of the nursing home, taking into account the resident’s assets. See Residential aged care facilities.

Accreditation Standards What exactly are the rules for accreditation of age care accomodation?

Standard 1: Management systems, staffing and organisational development

Principle: Within the philosophy and level of care offered in the residential care service, management systems are responsive to the needs of residents, their representatives, staff and stakeholders, and the changing environment in which the service operates.

Intention of standard: This standard is intended to enhance the quality of performance under all of the Accreditation Standards, and should not be regarded as an end in itself. It provides opportunities for improvement in all aspects of service delivery and is pivotal to the achievement of overall quality.

Expected outcomes

1.1 Continuous improvement

The organisation actively pursues continuous improvement

1.2 Regulatory compliance

The organisation’s management has systems in place to identify and ensure compliance with all relevant legislation, regulatory requirements, professional standards and guidelines

1.3 Education and staff development

Management and staff have appropriate knowledge and skills to perform their roles effectively

1.4 Comments and complaints

Each resident (or his or her representative) and other interested parties have access to internal and external complaints mechanisms

1.5 Planning and leadership

The organisation has documented the residential care service’s vision, values, philosophy, objectives and commitment to quality throughout the service

1.6 Human resource management

There are appropriately skilled and qualified staff sufficient to ensure that services are delivered in accordance with these standards and the residential care service’s philosophy and objectives

1.7 Inventory and equipment

Stocks of appropriate goods and equipment for quality service delivery are available

1.8 Information systems

Effective information management systems are in place

1.9 External services

All externally sourced services are provided in a way that meets the residential care service’s needs and service quality goals

Standard 2: Health and personal care

Principle: Residents’ physical and mental health will be promoted and achieved at the optimum level in partnership between each resident (or his or her representative) and the health care team.

Expected outcomes

2.1 Continuous improvement

The organisation actively pursues continuous improvement

2.2 Regulatory compliance

The organisation’s management has systems in place to identify and ensure compliance with all relevant legislation, regulatory requirements, professional standards, and guidelines, about health and personal care

2.3 Education and staff development

Management and staff have appropriate knowledge and skills to perform their roles effectively

2.4 Clinical care

Residents receive appropriate clinical care

2.5 Specialised nursing care needs

Residents’ specialised nursing care needs are identified and met by appropriately qualified nursing staff

2.6 Other health and related services

Residents are referred to appropriate health specialists in accordance with the resident’s needs and preferences

2.7 Medication management

Residents’ medication is managed safely and correctly

2.8 Pain management

All residents are as free as possible from pain

2.9 Palliative care

The comfort and dignity of terminally ill residents is maintained

2.10 Nutrition and hydration

Residents receive adequate nourishment and hydration

2.11 Skin care

Residents’ skin integrity is consistent with their general health

2.12 Continence management

Residents’ continence is managed effectively

2.13 Behavioural management

The needs of residents with challenging behaviours are managed effectively

2.14 Mobility, dexterity and rehabilitation

Optimum levels of mobility and dexterity are achieved for all residents

2.15 Oral and dental care

Residents’ oral and dental health is maintained

2.16 Sensory loss

Residents’ sensory losses are identified and managed effectively

2.17 Sleep

Residents are able to achieve natural sleep patterns

Standard 3: Resident lifestyle

Principle: Residents retain their personal, civic, legal and consumer rights, and are assisted to achieve active control of their own lives within the residential care service and in the community.

Expected outcomes

3.1 Continuous improvement

The organisation actively pursues continuous improvement

3.2 Regulatory compliance

The organisation’s management has systems in place to identify and ensure compliance with all relevant legislation, regulatory requirements, professional standards, and guidelines, about resident lifestyle

3.3 Education and staff development

Management and staff have appropriate knowledge and skills to perform their roles effectively

3.4 Emotional support

Each resident receives support in adjusting to life in the new environment and on an ongoing basis

3.5 Independence

Residents are assisted to achieve maximum independence, maintain friendships and participate in the life of the community within and outside the residential care service

3.6 Privacy and dignity

Each resident’s right to privacy, dignity and confidentiality is recognised and respected

3.7 Leisure interests and activities

Residents are encouraged and supported to participate in a wide range of interests and activities of interest to them

3.8 Cultural and spiritual life

Individual interests, customs, beliefs and cultural and ethnic backgrounds are valued and fostered

3.9 Choice and decision-making

Each resident (or his or her representative) participates in decisions about the services the resident receives, and is enabled to exercise choice and control over his or her lifestyle while not infringing on the rights of other people

3.10 Resident security of tenure and responsibilities

Residents have secure tenure within the residential care service, and understand their rights and responsibilities

Standard 4: Physical environment and safe systems

Principle: Residents live in a safe and comfortable environment that ensures the quality of life and welfare of residents, staff and visitors.

Expected outcomes

4.1 Continuous improvement

The organisation actively pursues continuous improvement

4.2 Regulatory compliance

The organisation’s management has systems in place to identify and ensure compliance with all relevant legislation, regulatory requirements, professional standards, and guidelines, about physical environment and safe systems

4.3 Education and staff development

Management and staff have appropriate knowledge and skills to perform their roles effectively

4.4 Living environment

Management of the residential care service is actively working to provide a safe and comfortable environment consistent with residents’ care needs

4.5 Occupational health and safety

Management is actively working to provide a safe working environment that meets regulatory requirements

4.6 Fire, security and other emergencies

Management and staff are actively working to provide an environment and safe systems of work that minimise fire, security and emergency risks

4.7 Infection control

An effective infection control program

4.8 Catering, cleaning and laundry services

Hospitality services are provided in a way that enhances residents’ quality of life and the staff’s working environment

For further information visit the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation website.
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Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are personal care activities – eating, bathing, grooming, dressing and toileting – necessary for everyday living. People with dementia may not be able to perform these necessary functions without assistance. Professionals, such as ACAT access a person’s ADLs to determine what type of care is needed. See ACAT; Aged care Assessment Team (ACAT).

Aged and Community Services Australia, formerly Aged Care Australia, is the peak national body for not-for-profit providers. It comprises six State associations, and its combined membership exceeds 1000 agencies providing residential and community care to older Australians. The basis of its charter is to respond to the changing needs of a rapidly ageing Australian society and to create a more positive and secure future for older people.

Aged Care Act, introduced in 1997 as part of the Federal Government’s aged care reforms, was designed to improve the quality of care for older Australians as well as the standard of nursing home accommodation. Briefly, the objects of the Act are to provide for funding of aged care that takes account of:

  1. The quality of the care.
  2. The type of care and level of care provided.
  3. The need to ensure access to care that is affordable by, and appropriate to the needs of, people who require it.
  4. Appropriate outcomes for recipients of care.
  5. And accountability of the providers of the care for the funding, and for the outcomes for recipients.

Another important link in the Aged Care Act relates to “ageing in place” and “the provision of care and services to the places where older people prefer to live.”

Aged Care Assessment Team, or ACAT, is part of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. Its role is “to provide high quality assessment of older people”. The aim of an assessment is “to identify client and carer needs, to formulate a care plan and make referrals to appropriate community and/or accommodation services.” ACATs comprise a cross-section of healthcare professionals – GPs, geriatricians, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. The team visits older people in their home, looks at their lifestyle, health and mobility and then recommends the appropriate level of care – residential, respite, community, flexible. ACAT came into existence in the early 1980s.

Aged Care System, a national Australian Government funded scheme whose services and facilities are provided for all Australians. Each State advises and makes recommendations to the Government, through the respective Ministers for Ageing, on matters affecting the needs, interests and well-being of older people.


  1. the document provided by the residential aged care facility (hostel or nursing home), which contains details of bonds, charge, care, and so on.
  2. Part of the loan/licence arrangement documentation linked with buying into a non-profit retirement village.

Age Pension, of twenty-six pounds ($52) per year, was paid from July 1, 1909, after legislation introduced by the Deakin Government in June 1, 1908. “The national system of old-age pensions.recognises that our citizens must frequently move from State to State in pursuit of their various callings and that it is unjust to base the right to a pension on continuous residence in one State,” the Attorney-General, Mr L. Groom, said in the House of Representatives on June 3, 1908. Social security benefits, including the age pension, total nearly $40 million a year.

Aged Rights, See Charter of Residents’ Rights and Responsibilities.

Aids and equipment, those devices used by persons with one or more disabilities to assist them with performing tasks, but not help provided by a person or an organisation. These devices can include, for example: incontinence products, rehabilitation aids, wheelchairs, home nursing equipment, pressure care products, compression garments.

Alarm Systems, or personal emergency alarms, were described by Choice magazine as “the ultimate” device for carers and ageing dependents alike. For dependents, these devices act as a “safety net” of 24-hour emergency care 365 days a week.

Ambulation, the ability to walk about freely and performing the necessary tasks of getting into or out of a bed or chair, or going to or getting around a place away from the usual residence. A person’s mobility plays a key role when making the transition from the home to an independent living facility. For this reason people approaching old age are wise to give their future accommodation some serious thought, even years before they are ready to make the move.

Aphasia, is the difficulty of understanding the speech of others and/or expressing oneself verbally. See Communication.

Assisted Living

  1. Hostel (low care) accommodation, which is provided by not-for-profit villages. Residents receive assistance with daily activities such as showering, personal care and dressing. All meals and laundry services are provided and staff is available 24-hours -a-day. Requires government assessment.
  2. Privately operated resident-funded villages have “serviced apartments,” which are designed to provide extra support and living assistance. No government assessment required.

In both cases residents are accommodated in smaller units or studio/bedsitter, with ensuite bathroom and kitchenette; all meals are provided in communal dining room.


Baby boomers, those Australians born between 1946 and 1964. On January 1, 1996, the first of the country’s five million baby boomers turned 50. They’re turning 50 at the rate of 700 a day. “The boomers, unlike their predecessors’ generations in both attitude and lifestyle, do not think of themselves as seniors,” says one leading study of the group that has initiated massive change at each new stage of life.

Bedfast is to be bed ridden.

Benevolent Society, which is committed to providing a range of services and facilities to support the aged, children and women’s health, is the oldest organisation of its kind in Australia. It was founded in May, 1813.

Best Practices is an initiative first introduced by the Retirement Villages Association NSW/ACT in the early 1990s “to exclude favouritism and unfair practices” in private sector retirement villages. The system was recognised as yet another way of promoting higher standards in member villages.


Cared accommodation, as it applies to aged care, embraces hostels (low care) or assisted living facilities, nursing homes (high care), serviced apartments in privately operated continuing care retirement villages and respite care centres.

Carer, in terms of aged care, applies to a person who provides informal assistance, help or supervision to persons with an illness or disability. Says the ABS Guide on Disability, Ageing and Carers, “the assistance has to be ongoing, or likely to be, for at least six months. Where the care recipient lives in the same household, the assistance is for one or more specific activities, such as: communication, healthcare, housework, meal preparation, mobility, paperwork, property maintenance, self-care and transport”.

The informal or “working carer” is the burgeoning group in the Australian workplace, of which about 65 per cent balance their caring responsibility with a fulltime job. The stress levels for this group are extremely high; and the drain can be especially acute among those carers who not live near the person they’re caring for. The demands of the carer – primary or working – can be overwhelming and exhausting to the point of eventually causing “burn-out”. The workplace must now come to terms with the fact that “caring is a family affair”, and respond to the intrinsic needs of this carer group.

Carers’ Association of Australia, offers guidance, counselling, information and support to family caregivers. Call 1800 242 636.

Carer Payment is an income support payment for carers who, because of the demands of the caring role, are unable to support themselves through full participation in the workforce.

Centrelink, is a statutory authority responsible to Minister for Family and Community Services. It handles support payments and information regarding aged pensions and retirement, disability, sickness and carers. Call 13 23 00.

Certified Facilities, are those that have met the minimum building and care standards that enable them to charge an accommodation bond and be eligible to receive Commonwealth subsidies for concessional and assisted residents.

Charter of Residents’ Rights and Responsibilities is a document that declares “every person has the right to freedom and respect and the right to be treated fairly by others (and that these) rights do not diminish when that person moves into a nursing home or hostel, regardless of that person’s physical or mental frailty or ability to exercise or fully appreciate his or her rights.” The Charter also recognises that residents must ensure that the exercising of their individual rights does not affect others’ individual rights, including those providing care.

The Code of Practice was introduced in some States and Territories, as a mandatory code to regulate the retirement village industry as to disclosure provisions, resident involvement in management, contract documentation and dispute resolution. See Retirement Villages Regulation 2000.

Common Area, that part of a retirement village containing communal areas and community facilities to which, generally, all residents have equal access.

Common Facilities, in a retirement village, mean items such as community centre, swimming pool, library, restaurant, barbecue, bowling green and village bus, all of which are provided for the benefit of the residents.

Commonwealth Carelink Centres, established by the Federal Government to provide information about aged care and disability services available across Australia. Call 1800 052 222.

Commonwealth funding, for residential aged care facilities, amounts to about 78 per cent of nursing home income and “slightly less” of hostel income.

Community Aged Care Packages, or CACPs, are planned and co-ordinated packages of community care services tailored to assist people with complex care needs so that they can remain at home. Assessment by ACAT is required.

Community care, in its various forms, enables a vast majority of older Australians to live independently in their own homes. The aim of the Aged Care Act (1997) is to promote “ageing in place” or “staying in place” through the linking of care and support services to the places where older people prefer to live. Services include: Home and Community Care (HACC), Community Aged Care Packages (CACPs), Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) and Respite Care. For the last two, assessment by ACAT is required.

Community housing and co-operatives have been in existence since the early 1930s. They provide cheap accommodation in a community setting, and are funded by government groups or non-profit organisations. One of the first was Hammonville, NSW, set up in 1932 by Robert Hammond, for families evicted during the depression. Other examples are Abbeyfield Homes and the Housing Trust of South Australia.

Company Title is one of four main titles relating to retirement villages and is based on the Home Unit Company Title concept. Shares in the company entitle a right to exclusive occupancy of a unit. Often the Title is linked with a long-term lease of the unit. There are usually ancillary management and service agreements to the village manager.

Concessional or assisted resident is a person who needs residential care, but is low on assets and income.

Continuing care is the care provided in a retirement village that offers everything, except acute hospital care treatment or special rehabilitation facilities. The level of care is not consistent for all villages. Before deciding on a move, people need to distinguish between villages that provide a full service, those that provide limited services and those “marginalised” villages built for the over 55s that offer no services at all.

Cool-off period is usually seven business days after entering into a village contract, during which time a person may, on giving the appropriate notice, withdraw from a contract to purchase without penalty. It is waived if the resident takes occupation.

Council on the Ageing, also known as COTA, was established to bring together the knowledge and experience of all three levels of Government, Church and voluntary agencies in planning and providing services for older people. COTA offices are in all States and Territories. Call (03) 9820 2655.


Day respite, a carer’s best friend. Half-day or full-day respite care can be arranged through a network of day centres, whether it takes place in the dependent’s home, or in a residential care facility. Call the family GP or ACAT.

Deferred Fee, also known as Departure Fee in some States, is normally a fee or part of the original price ‘deferred’ until resale of the resident’s unit. It is calculated on a daily basis. Some villages, however, do not charge departure fees. It’s certainly one of the priority questions to ask during an inspection: “Will I be charged a departure fee?”

Department of Fair Trading, a regulatory body known in some States as Office of Fair Trading or Office of Consumer Affairs, which has the responsibility of administering the laws that set out “the rights and obligations” of prospective residents or retirement villages and village operators. As a regulator, it also provides information about retirement villages, handles complaints and possible breaches of the laws, provides mediation for residents to help resolve disputes and being involved in judicial proceedings on behalf of residents in matters of public interest. Call the appropriate organisation in your State and ask for any information about its role and responsibilities relating to retirement villages. Note: For information about Residential Aged Care Facilities or Services, nursing homes, hostels and community care, call the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing in your State; or the Central Office on 1800 020 103.

Departure Fee, See Deferred Fee.

Deposit is the amount some village operators allow an intending resident to pay to ‘hold’ a particular unit, apartment or villa. Also known as a Holding Deposit. In most States it is fully refundable within 14 days of a written request should the person decide not to enter into a contract. Not to be confused with a “waiting list fee”, where some villages charge prospective residents to join their waiting list, and which is also fully refundable to the person or his/her estate within 14 days of a written request. Check with the Fair Trading or Consumer Affairs office in your State.

Direct Care Worker is a person who provides some level of informal care to an older person. This person may be a doctor, nurse, social worker, personal care aid or maintenance worker.

Disability, in the context of health, as defined by the World Health organisation (WHO), is “any restriction or lack (resulting from impairment) of ability to perform an action in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being, which has lasted or likely to last for at least six months and restricts the person’s everyday activities”. For a comprehensive list of the relevant “restrictions and impairments”, see the 1998 ABS Disability, Ageing and Carers’ User Guide.

Disability with restriction is being able to cope with self-care, mobility, communication, and participate in schooling and employment.

Disclosure Statement is the pertinent information about a village, which is required to be disclosed under the Code of Practice, or whatever the equivalent is in each State, particularly relating to fees, charges, facilities and services. This information must be disclosed to purchasers prior to entering into a contract.

Disputes Committee a committee required under the State’s Code of Practice, or similar, to hear and mediate disputes within the village. It’s preferable if the issue under dispute can be resolved at this level, rather than taking it to the Residential Tribunal. See Department of Fair Trading or Office of Fair Trading.

Dispute Resolution See Disputes Committee.

Dual Occupancy in an existing home, is one of the options a person can explore in assessing future retirement housing needs. There are naturally advantages and disadvantages. Advantages: Opportunity to select compatible tenant or relative, reduces burden of maintenance and it’s easier to leave if travelling frequently. Disadvantages: Separate capital to be raised, reduced space and privacy, and the possibility of neighbourhood and/or council resistance.


Enduring Power of Attorney, a legal device that allows a person (the ‘attorney’) – preferably the carer – to look after an older person’s property and financial affairs. The ‘enduring’ aspect comes into affect if that person loses control or the capacity to do those things; hence, the ‘attorney’ can continue to carry on.

Enduring Guardianship, a legal device that allows somebody to be appointed to look after the welfare or health issues of an older dependent, if that person becomes incapacitated. The enduring guardian simply means the nominated person, ‘the guardian,’ can make the decision to proceed with an operation, or turn off the life support if a person becomes incapable of making that decision. In other words, it formalises the concept of next of kin.

Eligibility, in aged care terms, applies to a person’s suitability for residential care and community-based assistance such as Community Aged Care Packages (CACPs), Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) and respite, as determined by Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT). Since 1994, ACAT assessments “score individuals against a nationally consistent set of dependency criteria.” See Aged Care Assessment Team; Community Aged Care Package.

Equity, in property such as the family abode, enables 87 per cent of older Australians to take care of their future accommodation or care needs and retain additional funds for investment from the sale of their previous home.

Exempt Homes, a sector comprising a small number of upmarket nursing homes that offer more service for more money.

Extended Aged Care at Home, or EACH package, is the equivalent of nursing home care in the home. Introduced as a pilot scheme in the late 1990s, the evaluation of EACH showed it to be both viable and effective.


Fall-back carer, according to the Disability, Ageing and Carers User Guide, is a person identified by the primary carer as being able to take responsibility for the care of the main recipient should the primary carer become unavailable.

Flexicare, the option of having basic care services delivered to retirement villages, particularly in relation to residents in self-care accommodation. This support care covers services such as: meals, laundry, washing, ironing and the supervision of medication, bathing, showering and dressing. The concept was developed by the Sydney Wesley Mission, and based on research in Australia and overseas.

Formal Assistance, says the Disability, Ageing and Carers User Guide, is the help provided to persons with one of more disabilities. This assistance is provided by:

  • organisations or individuals representing for profit, non-profit, government or private interests; and
  • other persons, excluding family or friends, who provide assistance on a regular, paid basis, and who were not associated with any organisation.

Freehold Title is the title a resident obtains to a unit or villa in a retirement village under the Strata Titles Act. Generally, restrictions are placed on the title to facilitate the orderly operation of the village and resale procedures. The obvious advantage, says a leading retirement lawyer, is the separate freeholds title, which may give a slight marketing advantage over leasehold villages.


Guardianship, a system designed to protect those persons whose functional limitations prevent them from making their own decisions. The Guardianship Act varies slightly from State to State. But, in essence, a person with a disability as one:

  1. who is intellectually, physically, psychologically or sensorily disabled
  2. who is of advanced age
  3. who is a mentally ill person within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1990
  4. who is otherwise disabled
  5. who, by virtue of that fact, is restricted in one or more major life activities to such an extent that that person requires supervision or social rehabilitation. There are Guardianship Authorities in each State and Territory.

Also see Enduring Guardianship.


HACC, or Home and Community Care, is designed to help people stay independent and living at home. HACC provides a number of services and care for frail older people, people with disabilities and their carers. The objects of the Aged Care Act 1997 is to, among other things, “promote ageing in place through the linking of care and support services to the places where older people prefer to live.” The person does not have to be assessed as needing this type of assistance. See Community Care.

Hostel accommodation is one of two residential aged care options that provides low level care services such as help with dressing and showering, and occasional nursing care. An Accommodation Bond applies in addition to daily care fees. The person must first be assessed as needing this type of accommodation. This assessment, which is free, is done by ACAT. See Aged Care Assessment Team. In many privately operated retirement villages there is a combination of self-care and serviced apartments. Generally, on a user pays basis, the latter provides services such as meals, cleaning, laundry and so on. No assessment is needed.


Informal assistance, as it applies to aged care, is unpaid help or supervision that is provided to persons with one or more disabilities, or to persons living in households.

Intestacy is a situation that arises when someone dies without making a will.






Leasehold Title, one of the four legal arrangements under which one buys into a retirement village. There is a registered lease for 99 or 199 years for which the resident pays the initial price or the lease price, which is generally the market price. In the case of a married couple the Lease, which is registered on the Title Deed for the village in the Titles office, will remain in force for the life of the partner who lives the longest. The developer retains ownership of the village property.

Legacy, in legal terms, is a gift of personal property by will. There are three kinds of legacy.

  1. A specific legacy, which is a definite property or object.
  2. A pecuniary legacy, which is a special sum of money.
  3. A residuary legacy, which is a gift of the residue. The person to whom the property is given is called a legatee; and the gift or the property is called a bequest.

Licence or loan licence, under which the bulk of villages in the not-for-profit church, charitable and community sector is operated, gives residents the licence to occupy a unit in exchange for an initial payment by way of an interest-free loan. Similar in some ways to a leasehold arrangement, but does not have the same security of tenure as it is not registered on the title of the village. The arrangement is between the resident and management/operator.




Neglect, explains the dictionary, is to “leave uncared for; careless treatment”. It’s hard to believe, even in this day and age, the number of people who are unemployed, sick and without a family to fall back on. It is also surprising the number of aged people living in nursing homes and hostels who never see their families from one year to the next.


Other dwelling, outside of cared accommodation – hostel, nursing home or retirement village – has many meanings, such as: boarding house or lodge, religious institution, manufactured or residential home park, guest house and so on.


Packages, specifically of the age care type, are designed to enable older Australians to stay independent and living at home. The services include: Home and Community Care (HACC), Community Aged Care Packages (CACPs) and Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH), which provides high levels of care, including nursing, in the home. The person must first be assessed as needing the type of assistance provided by the latter two services.

Partial intestacy takes place when your will does not take care of the whole of your estate.

Pilot scheme is a project that is virtually ‘test marketed’ in a certain area or locality before it is launched nationally. Two recent examples: The Extended Aged Care at Home package (EACH) was “piloted” by the Federal Government in 2002 to test whether high levels of care could be provided in the home. The Retirement Villages Association of Australia (RVAA) launched its industry-regulated accreditation scheme for privately operated retirement villages in 1996; it was based on a ‘pilot’ scheme, which had been in vogue in NSW since 1989. See Accreditation.

Primary carer is a person of any age who provides the most informal assistance in terms of help or supervision, to a person with one of more disabilities. The latest census showed there are 2.3 million carers in Australia looking after parents and relatives who are ageing or have a disability or illness; and that 59 per cent of carers combine their caring role with some sort of work, which is mostly on a full-time basis. The census also shows that substantial “informal care” is being provided in one of every five households in Australia.

Probate is a legal procedure that takes place after your death to verify a will. If not, an administrator is appointed.

Psychogeriatric is a term to describe mental illness in people aged 65 and over.

Purpose-built is a term used to describe a building or complex that has been designed for a specific purpose, such as a retirement village, hostel or nursing home.


Question everything you don’t understand about contracts, arrangements, documentation, rules and regulations that relate to retirement housing and residential aged care facilities. There’s a lot to know regarding the finer points of the financial and legal arrangements; no document should be signed until a solicitor has examined it. See Accommodation Bonds.


Real property means Freehold land.

Records relating to personal information should be able to be found at a moment’s notice by a member of the family in the case of an emergency. In the case of entry into a hostel or nursing home, the resident or carer will be required to provide information on pension and other benefits, health insurance, Medicare, property and other assets, income, and so on. In the early stages of the caring role it would be in the family’s interest to secure a copy of an ‘admissions form’ from different facilities in the area so that they are familiar with the personal and financial information required of them and their ageing dependent. See Accommodation Bonds.

Regulations regarding retirement villages, see Village rules. Aged care facilities, nursing homes and hostels, see Charter of Residents Rights and Responsibilities.

Resident funded village is a retirement village where all the operating expenses are totally funded by contributions from residents on a user pays basis. Which means, says the Council on the Ageing, that residents are ultimately the sole source of income which covers the full cost of construction, maintenance and day to day running of the complex, with no government contribution. See Leasehold Title.

Respite care constitutes a wide spectrum of alternative care arrangements for persons with one or more disabilities, or older people, to allow carers to have a break from their commitment. Respite care can be planned on a regular basis or in an emergency or crisis situation. These services may be provided in a residential aged care facility, community centre or in a person’s home. The first step in to talk to your GP or the Aged care Assessment team (ACAT).

Residential aged care facilities, which were once referred to as nursing homes and hostels.

Residence contract means a contract or agreement by which a resident obtains the rights to occupy a unit in a retirement village. See Legal Titles.

Residents’ Committee or Residents’ Forum means a committee formed by residents in a retirement village to represent the interests of residents.

Residue is that property of an estate that remains after debts, expenses and devises (including bequests) have been administered. Some people leave their residue, or a share of it, to charity.

Retirement Villages Act is a consumer protection Act that regulates the operation of retirement villages – private as well as non-profit – particularly as to security of title and termination of contracts. All States and Territories have either an Act or a Code of Practice.


Standard Aggregated Module (SAM), in nursing homes, relates to non-care related expenditure such as food, accommodation, laundry expenses and so on.

Self-care or independent living. See Independent living.

Services agreement is where a village management/operator/sponsor agrees to provide particular services and facilities, which are, in a privately run facility, on a user pay basis.

Serviced apartment is an assisted living unit (ALU) that is run on “hostel” lines in a privately run village where services such as meals, laundry, cleaning and personal care are available. No government assessment is needed.

Service provider, in aged care terms, is an individual or organisation that provides a service to the consumer.

Shared housing for the elderly is a concept that began to emerge at the behest of various State governments in the mid 1970s. This idea started to gather momentum in 1974, when the Whitlam Government phased out capital subsidy for retirement villages. Villages with Government capital subsidy had been built under the Aged or Disabled persons Homes Act since 1954.

Standards, See Accreditation.

Strata Title means a resident obtains a freehold to a unit/apartment/villa under the Strata Titles Act. Generally, restrictions are placed on the title to facilitate the orderly operation of the village and resale procedures.


Tenure simply refers to a person’s right to occupy a unit, apartment or villa in a retirement complex and to use available services. See various titles: Leasehold title, Licence or loan licence, Company title and Strata title.

Testator, or testatrix, is a person who makes a will.

Trustee is a person or entity appointed under a Trust Deed to provide some supervision, particularly in respect of financial dealings between a village and residents.


Unit is one of several types of accommodation arrangements in retirement housing complexes.


Village rules mean the rules with which residents have to comply within a village. Residents have a right of input into creation of these rules. The rules may relate to the security, use, enjoyment, control and management in the village as well as the external appearance of residents’ premises in the village. The rules may cover: persons other than residents or employees of the village living in the village, visitors, including overnight or short-stay guests, the making of noise, parking of motor vehicles, disposal of refuse, keeping of pets, gardening and landscaping, and use of services and facilities and restrictions thereof.








Zany, zest and zeal are three wonderful parts of the self that we must hang on to as we grow old or older. There’s nothing wrong with being a bit wacky or playing the clown; there’s nothing wrong with approaching life with gusto and getting great satisfaction or happiness at doing so; and there’s nothing wrong with being enthusiastic and industrious, or determined and enterprising at anything and everything you do. As the experts keep telling us, ageing is not a disease.