Here is a summarised list of what to do, what is needed & where to go for help;
1. Get an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT)
Arrange to have the person get an ACAT Assessment (Aged Care Assessment Team). The ACAT is your gateway into aged care. Without the ACAT assessment most aged care facilities won’t start the conversation.
This can be arranged by their doctor, or if the person is in hospital by the Social Workers or Discharge Planners. Alternatively, on the “My Aged care” website, click on the “find a service” tab, then click on “ACAT” type in the suburb & the contact details of the nearest ACAT is available. OR call 1800 200 422 & they can arrange an ACAT assessment for you.
NB Many Social Workers, Discharge Planners & even Aged Care facilities will tell you, that you MUST have the “Means Test Assessment” form (28 page Centrelink form) completed first- NB – WARNING- This is NOT a good idea until you have determined whether the person would be a Supported resident or not- only AFTER you have determined this, should you complete & send in the form- see next section
2. Determine whether the person would be a “Supported resident” or not
The Means test assessment mentioned above will determine 2 things:
Whether the person entering care is to be a “Supported resident” or an “Unsupported resident” ie is a Supported resident has less in assets & income & consequently the Government subsidises the aged care costs more than an Unsupported resident. See the definition of Supported & Unsupported by clicking on the hyperlink. Once the means test assessment has been completed, it is extremely hard to change. Also, there are ways of making some people supported when they are currently Unsupported, & also some aged care facilities do not accept supported residents
To determine how much Means Tested Fee will be charged. Keep in mind that the Means Tested Fee advised by the Department of Human Services is frequently wrong. It is in your best interests to determine what it should be, so that you know if the Government assessment is wrong or right.
It is a good time to seek expertise from an Aged Care Planner (Specialist is aged care) before proceeding to the next steps.
3. Visit Aged Care facilities
Once you have the ACAT assessment & determined whether the person is a Supported resident or not, you should then start visiting aged care facilities, to see which ones you like, that meet your needs e.g.
- Proximity to family & friends
- Whether they can offer respite & if so for how long
- Ability to deliver the care needs required
- You may require a single room
- You may require your own EnSite (rather than a shared bathroom)
- That will accept supported residents (if the person has been assessed as Supported
- You may require religious based or specific ethnic based facility etc.
Whilst visiting aged care facilities ask them these questions;
- How much is the Accommodation Payment (formerly known as Accommodation Bond) as a Lump Sum. That facility might tell you that you CAN pay for the Accommodation as a Refundable Accommodation Deposit or as a Daily Accommodation Payment or as a combination of both. However, it the Lump sum of Refundable Accommodation Deposit that we need to know. All other methods of paying are determined form the Lump Sum or Refundable Accommodation Deposit.
- Ask whether they have an Extra Services Fee, & if so, how much is it?
- Ask if there are any other fees that they charge NB There might be a Means Tested Fee, however this fee is determined by the Government, the aged care facility will not know how much to charge for this fee until the Government advises them.
- If the person is likely to be a Supported resident, then also ask the facility IF they will accept a Supported resident (they may use the term Concessional instead of, supported-but it means the same thing). If the answer is yes, then ask
- Are there any limitations for a supported resident (e.g. they might only accept a supported resident in a shared room -this might not suit your purposes) OR they may have an extensive waiting list
4. Determine the best way to fund aged care
This is where most people need help guidance & expertise from an aged care specialist.
There are many ways of paying for your aged care, yes, it’s true you can pay a Refundable Accommodation Deposit or a Daily Accommodation Payment or combination, but HOW do you do that.
- Is it better to sell the home or keep the home?
- Is it better to rent the home?
- It may be better to rent the home to family member for nominal rent
- What about selling other assets?
- Could borrowing from a bank deliver a better outcome, if you want to keep your home?
- Or borrowing from family, may be wiser
- We have situations where a family member buys a part of the home to fund the Accommodation as a Refundable Accommodation Deposit
Don’t limit yourself to what you think are the only alternatives, there are often many other possibilities that you might not have considered, that may deliver a better outcome OR it is possible that turning the person into a Supported resident could save thousands of dollars a year.
5. Make the decision about which facility you want
Once you have narrowed it down to your preferred list of facilities, & they have a vacancy, determined their costs, obtained help from an aged care specialist to determine the best way for you to pay for aged care. Make your decision & advise the aged care facility you want to take the bed (keep in mind that if you take too long they may offer the bed to someone else, they must keep their beds as full as possible, so won’t have time for you to take too long to make your decision).
Tell them HOW you wish to pay for the Accommodation Contribution or Accommodation Payment. The aged care facility will then prepare the Residential Aged Care Agreement (contract) based on how you wish to pay for the Accommodation.
6. Complete the Means Test Form (SA457)
Centrelink form called ‘Permanent Residential Aged Care Request for a Combined Asset & Income Assessment”.
We believe you should complete this form only AFTER you have determined which facility you want. It is not always important to do this especially if the person is NOT going to be Supported. However, it is always better to be sure.
We have had clients that could have been Supported, but weren’t because of;
- Errors made by Centrelink in processing the form, or
- Because the client completed the form incorrectly or
- Because Centrelink used what was on the persons file with Centrelink & it was out of date
- A small change to their circumstances- could have made them supported
There have been other instances where clients were Supported, but the aged care facility they wanted would not accept a supported resident, however the family would have paid the full Accommodation Payment for them, but once supported you can’t do that.
Most people don’t understand the importance & significance of getting this part right.
7. Sign the Residential Aged Care Agreement
The Residential Aged Care Agreement (contract) is basically the agreement which gets the two parties to agree that the facility will provide & deliver care & the resident will pay the fees. Naturally there is more to it than that, but however that is the essence of the agreement.
There is NO need to worry or panic about the agreement, it is not like a real estate contract, where once you have settled on the purchase of the property it is yours, you are stuck with it.
With Aged Care, if you want to leave, you tell the facility you are moving on, & if you have paid the lump sum (Refundable Accommodation Deposit) they refund it within 14 days & you move to another facility. That is, you are not stuck there for the rest of your life you can move to another facility if you like.
Beware that moving to another facility MAY change the funding arrangements & it is possible that you could lose your supported status, & you will need to do another Means Test form with Centrelink.