Accessing care

ACAS and eligibility

In Australia, accessing aged care requires that an individual has an Aged Care Assessment. This is undertaken by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), or in Victoria, Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS). Referrals to an ACAS can be made by a prospective resident, family member, personal doctor, or other health-service professional. Their offices are often based in hospitals and the local community.

View a current list of ACAS contact information

A local ACAS will assess whether a person is eligible to receive Australian government subsidised care. The assessment is undertaken by a health service professional, such as a nurse, social worker or occupational therapist. The assessor will then determine if an applicant is eligible for care and the level of care needed. This is based on a range of factors including a person's mobility, health and cognition.

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Request for an assets assessment

To request an assets assessment:

Having an assets assessment is not mandatory. The assets assessment will measure a person's assets (not their income) and is used only to determine if they are eligible for a 'concessional' placement. It has nothing to do with their daily care fee or income tested fee. It may only affect the amount of an a person's accommodation bond in low level care or daily accommodation charge that a resident may be asked to pay in high care.

The request for an assets assessment is a legal document and must be signed by the person requiring the assessment, or by their POA.

If a low care resident thinks their assets equal more than the average bond, they might be able to negotiate the bond amount with the residential facility without having an assets assessment or disclosing this information to them. This is however, up to the individual facility. Although it is not mandatory to have an assets assessment, the facility is not obligated to accept a resident without it. The residential facility does have the right to request the maximum accommodation bond should a resident choose not to provide their assets assessment.

If a high care resident's assets are over the threshold to receive assistance in paying their accommodation charge, they would not usually have to complete and submit an assets assessment. This is because they will not be concessional for the purpose of the accommodation charge, and therefore do not need to prove their concessional status.

An aged care facility may ask a resident to have a statutory declaration signed saying that their assets are over the threshold and that they can pay the full accommodation charge. This covers them in the case where a resident happens to be eligible for government funding (in which case they have been overcharging a resident; albeit unbeknownst to them). Again, some residential facilities may request to have this document on file regardless of whether or not a resident is paying the full accommodation charge.

Application for entry into respite and permanent care

Download this document here

This form will help when applying for respite and permanent residential care. Most residential aged care facilities will require this form when applying for entry.

Power of attorney

Powers of attorney are legal documents that let a person choose another that can make legal decisions for them in the case where a person is unfit or unable to make decisions for themself.

In Victoria, there are four different powers: three enduring powers and one general power. The type of power determines the types of decisions that other people to make for a person. An Enduring Power of Attorney (financial) is commonly appointed prior to or during the transition into residential aged care. This allows the person appointed to manage appointed finances and make legal decisions on a person's behalf.

Other forms of POA may be important depending on a person's particular circumstances. These include Enduring Power of Guardianship and Enduring Power of Attorney (medical).

Read more about the powers and how to appoint

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Entering aged care

Once a prospective resident has found a residential facility they wish to enter they will need to apply by submitting the required documentation. As documentation and application processes can vary slightly between residential facilities, it is advised to talk to the facility in question about what their particular application procedure is. For example, many facilities will require the "application for entry into respite and permanent care" upfront, however others will have their own application form.

All facilities will require a copy of a person's Aged Care Client Record (aged care assessment), but be aware that there may not be a vacancy at a person's preferred residential facility/s, in which case a prospective resident will be added to a waiting list until a vacancy becomes available. A prospective resident may so choose to waitlist at multiple facilities to increase their chances of securing a placement in a shorter timeframe. A prospective resident may also need to complete an "assets assessment" depending on their financial status for each application.

It is important to remember that although residential aged care facilities are all regulated and funded in the same way, they are businesses owned and operated by different groups and organisations. Although processes for admission are likely to be similar, they do vary from facility to facility.

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5 steps to entry into residential aged care

This booklet will help any prospective care resident to understand what residential aged care is, why they might need it, and how to go about arranging it. The information included in the booklet is for not only for the prospective resident, but also for any people who may be assisting them in their decision, such as family, carers or friends.

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