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What do you do when your health is declining and you are unable to perform all of the daily tasks you have so competently been undertaking for many decades?

At some stage most of us, or our loved ones, will face declining health and frailty where independent living is no longer a viable option.

The aged care system can appear daunting to those whom are unfamiliar with navigating the various processes and terminology.

There are a number of steps you must complete before you can enter into a residential aged care facility. A brief outline of those steps are set out below.

  1. ACAT Assessment

Before you can enter into an Aged Care facility you must first obtain an assessment from the Aged Care Assessment Team (‘ACAT’). This is a free service. You are unable to enter into an Aged Care facility unless you have been assessed as needing residential care.

A member of the ACAT Team, usually a nurse, social worker or health care professional, will attend the home and talk to you about your current situation. They will then determine whether you are eligible to receive government-subsidised aged care services.

Once you have an assessment you can make application to aged care facilities.

  1. Determining Payment

The Australian Government pays for the bulk of aged care in Australia. The amount you must contribute towards your own care will depend on your individual financial circumstances.

In order to determine the amount payable by you, you must complete a request form and submit it to Centrelink for assessment. Centrelink will then make a determination as to the amounts of any government subsidies you may receive.

  1. Fees Payable

There are a number of fees you may be required to pay on entering an aged care facility. These are outlined below.

a. Accommodation Payments

This is the amount you pay in order to secure a room within the facility.

If you are eligible for government subsidies, this amount may be reduced, and in certain circumstances, may not be payable at all.

b. Daily Fees

This fee covers costs such as meals, power, laundry etc. If the government will meet the costs of your accommodation in full then this will be the only fee payable by you.

c. Means-Tested Fees

If you are financially secure then you may have to pay a means tested fee as an additional contribution towards care. Based on an assessment of your income and assets, Centrelink will determine whether such a fee is payable, and if so, how much is required.

  1. Residence Agreement

If your application is accepted by the facility, you will need to enter into a Resident Agreement with the facility.

The Resident Agreement will set out what you will need to pay, as well as your responsibilities as a resident, and the responsibilities of the aged care provider.

The facility may offer a variety of fee structures which can have a significant impact on your long-term wealth.

We recommend that you obtain legal and financial advice in relation to the agreement and the appropriate fee structure.

If you would like to find out more information on Aged Care in Australia, or if you need assistance or advice on how to proceed, please call either Brian Tetlow or Emma Bragg on (02) 6140 3263 or email [email protected].