5 Simple Steps into Residential Aged Care

9th June 2020 | 8 mins

Aged Care Fees

Residential aged care is one of those life decisions that few people anticipate, but which ultimately many older Australians either choose or need.

This means that when faced with the prospect of moving yourself or a loved one into care, it can sometimes feel like a race against time to quickly upskill in all the unfamiliar processes, terminology, and choices that can make the transition more challenging.

So, whether you’re exploring permanent, respite care, dementia care, reablement (rehabilitation), or palliative care, we recommend that you follow these five key steps to begin your personal journey.


First, you need to find out if you (or your loved one if you’re exploring on their behalf) are eligible for residential aged care by organising an ACAT assessment (Aged Care Assessment Team) or ACAS in Victoria.

The ACAT assessment is a report that lets you and aged care homes know what your assessed needs are. Assessments are generally straightforward to arrange. You can contact ACAT directly by calling 1800 200 422 or you can visit the government’s My Aged Care website or simply reach out to your local GP.


Once you have your ACAT in hand, you’re ready to begin exploring care homes in your chosen area. It’s always a good idea to tour the home in person to get a sense of its location, feel, lifestyle options—and the care team. It’s also important to consider whether the home meets your specific needs and preferences. For example, some homes offer private rooms with ensuite while others offer companion rooms with shared bathrooms.


The next step is making sense of complex aged care fees and home costs. To receive government support, you’ll need to complete an Income and Assets Assessment with Services Australia (formerly called the DHS). While you’re waiting for the assessment to be finalised, it’s a good idea to use the government’s aged care fees calculator to help you estimate the likely cost of residential aged care. While aged care fees and charges can be confusing, it’s important to simply remember that the more means you have, the more you will be required to contribute to the cost of your accommodation and your care.


Now that you have a clearer understanding of your budget and care needs, it’s time to apply to the care homes of your choice. Remember you can apply to as many homes as you wish, which usually entails simply completing an aged care admission form or application form. Once a home receives your application, they will let you know if they have aged care vacancies in your budget and if they can meet your clinical needs.


Once you've been offered a place in a residential aged care home you'll need to review and sign the resident agreement and prepare for move-in day. Although this can be a daunting time for residents and relatives, many care homes offer support and resources to help smooth the transition into care.

For some people, moving into care can be a difficult decision yet residential aged care can also be a wonderful chapter for many, providing companionship, support, reablement, and stimulation in an enjoyable community.

For more information about finding the best residential aged care home for you, download a copy of Opal’s comprehensive 5-Step Guide

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