About supported residential services

What is an SRS?

A Supported Residential Service (SRS) is a privately run business, providing accommodation and support to people who can no longer live independently at home. SRS businesses that cater for the elderly generally provide a similar level of care to that of government-funded low-level residential care. SRS businesses operate in the community in purpose-built facilities or modified buildings. Whatever the type of building, SRS proprietors must provide a home-like environment for those in their care.

Supported residential service facilities do not receive government funding, but must be registered by the state government and are independently monitored to ensure that they meet specific standards of care and accommodation to those in their care. There are currently 174 SRS facilities registered with the Department of Health (as of 1 May 2011) ranging from small facilities accommodating as few as five people, to large facilities with up to 90 residents. SRS facilities often cater for particular groups such as the aged or intellectually disabled.

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Legislation and regulation

SRS facilities are required to comply with the Victorian Health Services Act 1988 and the Health Services (Supported Residential Services) Regulations 2001. This constitutional document sets out penalties for non-compliance.

The Acts and Regulations listed here are available for reading from the VICTORIAN LAW TODAY section of the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website, which is maintained by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victoria.

  • Health Services Act 1988
  • Health Services (Supported Residential Services) Regulations 2001
  • Food Act 1984
  • Health Records Act 2001
  • Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981
  • Health (Infectious Diseases) (Notification) Regulations 1998
  • Information Privacy Act 2000
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2006
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Who runs and staffs SRS businesses?

SRS businesses are owned by a person or company (called the proprietor) who is granted a certificate by the Department of Health allowing them to operate the SRS establishment. A proprietor may also manage the SRS. SRS businesses are required to employ a qualified personal care coordinator who coordinates care for all residents. The proprietor may also be the personal care coordinator if suitably qualified.

There must be at least one staff member for every 30 residents, extra staff to provide adequate levels of care for residents, and at least one staff member on site overnight to respond to the resident's care needs and to ensure their safety.

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SRS fees and entry requirements

An aged care assessment undertaken by ACAS is not required for entry into an SRS. If however the individual has had an aged care assessment recently undertaken, then this can be a useful tool for the SRS manger in determining their ability to care for the individual. The SRS will do their own assessment to determine if the facility can cater for the individual or not.

SRS businesses are able to set their own fees and charges. The range of fees can be anywhere from about 85% of the pension up to $1,000 per week or more. Before choosing an SRS, make sure you understand all the fees and charges that apply.

Residential statement

When an individual agrees to move into an SRS facility, a document referred to as a residential statement must be prepared and given to you within 48 hours. It is an agreement between the resident and the proprietor outlining the services, fees and conditions applying.

The following are some points you should have included in your residential statement.

  • Details of the services that will be provided
  • Details of the nature of the accommodation to be provided
  • The cost, including standard fees and any additional charges
  • Any optional services that may be organised by the SRS and associated costs
  • How and when the SRS will advise of any changes in fees and charges
  • Arrangements if you need to be away from the SRS for a period of time, for example, either planned or an emergency, such as a hospital admission
  • Reasons and length of notice if the proprietor wishes to terminate your residency and require you to move out
  • Policy relating to smoking and alcohol
  • Grounds for eviction from the SRS.
  • The residential statement must be prepared in consultation with the resident and, where appropriate, a relative or guardian.
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What services and support can you expect?

The SRS will provide assistance with showering, personal hygiene, toileting, dressing, meals and medication, as well as physical and emotional support. Some SRS facilities also provide nursing or allied health services. SRS facilities may vary in the services they provide, the people they accommodate, and the fees they charge.

While SRS facilities do not receive direct government funding, residents can access some government-funded services and community services. For example, residents may be assisted to go to government-funded services or a service may visit the SRS facility. These services may include allied health, mental health, disability services, veterans' affairs and neighbourhood houses. The SRS manager or personal care coordinator will know how to access these services or you can ask your local council or community health service.

An SRS is not considered a high care facility. An individual who requires a high level of care will most likely need to be cared for in a government-funded residential aged care facility. In some cases however, an individual may age in place in an SRS. This is dependent on the medical requirements and ongoing care needs of the resident.

Respite

Respite is a predominant service offered by SRS's. Most, if not all, SRS facilities that care for the elderly will offer respite to the wider community. There is no limit to the amount of respite an individual can receive. Eligibility is only dependent on the vacancies available and the ability of the SRS facility in question to cater for the individual's needs. The cost of respite will vary between SRS facilities and is usually charged on a weekly basis.

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Is SRS right for you?

This generally comes down to two factors: The ability of the SRS to cater for the individual's needs both now and in the future; and whether or not the financial structure will work for/against the individual.

When considering the first factor for example, an SRS may be able to cater for a resident with dementia. However, this may depend on the severity of the dementia and the behaviours an individual exhibits. Most SRS facilities are not secure, so it would not be an appropriate place for residence for an individual who may be prone to wander. Your doctor and other health professionals are a good place to start in helping you decide if a particular SRS facility will meet your care needs.

An SRS is often a good choice for residents who need minimal assistance with the activities of daily living, but will benefit from a supported environment. Residents will generally be free to come and go as they please, so an SRS facility may provide and support a person's independence more than that of a government funded care facility. On the other hand, they may not be able to cater for an individual's ongoing needs as they age. Many individuals opt to enter an SRS as it suits their current needs and preferences, and move into a high care facility if and when needed.

As an individual's care needs and preferences vary greatly, so do the culture of different SRS facilities. Each case needs to be assessed individually to ensure that the right SRS is chosen in the first place.

When considering the second factor (financial structure), an individual's income and assets will determine whether or not an SRS is the right decision financially. For example, a full pensioner that owns their own home and is eligible to receive low-level care in a government funded facility, may choose to put their money into an accommodation bond and go into a government funded low-care facility. This is because the bond money is not considered an asset and is not assessed against the pension. If this individual however was to sell their home and move into an SRS, then this money may be considered an asset and may significantly affect the amount of pension the person will receive. A person of this status may be able to invest their money in certain ways to maximise their pension if they wish to go into an SRS facility.

Other individuals such as self-funded retirees and those with very little income/assets may not be negatively impacted by the financial structure of an SRS. The most important thing to remember is that just as an individual's care needs and preferences vary, so too does a person's financial circumstances and preferences. Each case should be individually assessed. An aged care financial advisor can advise you further based on you individual circumstances.

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Compare, contrast and choose between the different SRS options available

A good SRS:

  • Provides for the individual's needs
  • Respects individuality
  • Promotes independence
  • Provides a supportive environment for the individual, family and friends
  • Invites input from residents, family and friends about the care and services they receive
  • Uses current practices to care for and support residents.

Regulations require SRS facilities to give you written information about:

  • Type of services provided
  • Objectives and philosophies of the service
  • The number of residents at the service
  • Goods and services offered to residents and the relevant costs involved
  • How and when changes to services, fees and charges will be notified
  • Services available to residents from outside the SRS
  • Times of routines, such as meal times
  • Complaints procedures
  • Options for managing resident's financial and legal affairs.

All of these factors should be considered when choosing an SRS.

Download a checklist to help you choose a SRS

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