Aged Care Planning: Assessment
The first step – Assessment
Illness, disability or the passing of the years can make it difficult for you or your loved one to maintain an independent lifestyle.
The ideal is to remain in one’s own home for as long as is reasonable and safe, but knowing when independence is no longer feasible is the difficulty.
Your first step is a visit to your doctor to discuss your or your loved one’s situation. The doctor will then usually refer you to an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).
The ACAT consists of appropriately qualified people who can visit the elderly person in their home and, following a government-approved guideline, assess how much and what type of care may be required.
Following assessment many people make private arrangements for their aged care living. They may stay in their own homes, perhaps with help from family or other carers. Some will move into a retirement village and retain their independence. Others may need a higher level of care earlier than expected.
The government provides substantial assistance with the costs of aged care, and eligibility for government support is determined by an Aged Care Assessment Team.
Aside from making an assessment of the need and level of care required, the ACAT may also be able to assist in finding an appropriate place. Most people prefer to make their own choice, and it is worthwhile visiting several facilities. Quite often available places are subject to existing vacancies, so it may be necessary to apply to a few establishments.
In most cases a contribution towards the costs of aged care is required. Contributions vary and depend upon income, assets and pensioner status.
Fees may include a combination of means-tested accommodation and care fees, a basic daily care fee and fees for extra optional services. Fees are revised twice yearly in line with pension reviews.
Care recipients have the option of paying their accommodation fee as an upfront refundable deposit or a rent-style periodic payment.
Not all needs are the same
Sometimes the need for aged care can arise at very short notice. For example, a stroke or a broken hip may be the trigger for an immediate move. The stress of entering aged care can be considerable and this isn’t helped by the overwhelming range of facilities on offer and the complexity of funding arrangements.
Department of Social Services website www.myagedcare.gov.au What help can I get?