The very first step in the aged care journey is to check what type of care you or your elderly loved one is eligible for. This is done through an in-person assessment called the Aged Care Assessment, often referred to by our team as the ACAT. You can book this online or over the phone through My Aged Care.
This assessment is conducted via a face-to-face interview, in the comfort of your own home, with a member of the government’s Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or the Victoria Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS). In some special circumstances, such as during a lockdown, you may be able to conduct this interview over the phone or via video.
The results of the assessment are mailed to you and will outline what the person seeking aged care is eligible for. This letter, also called a referral, is usually required when gaining access to aged care.
What exactly is an Aged Care Assessment?
The Aged Care Assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of the physical, medical, psychological, cultural, social and restorative care needs of a potential aged care resident.
Aged Care Assessments are completed through My Aged Care, which is a completely free service funded by the Australian Government.
The ACAT can assess you for the following types of care:
- Home Care Packages
- Short-term Care Options
- Residential Aged Care
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Where do I find more information about Aged Care Assessments?
Everything you need to complete an Aged Care Assessment can be found on the My Aged Care website: www.myagedcare.gov.au
Before you have the assessment, My Aged Care stipulate that you must carry out 3 basic steps.
- Your situation: a 5-minute eligibility test.
- Provide your details: provide personal contact details and Medicare card of the applicant and the person wishing to enter aged care, which takes approximately 10 minutes.
- Arrange the assessment: provide contact details of the person the assessor needs to contact to arrange the face-to-face assessment.
Complete the Aged Care Assessment application form online HERE.
Why would someone need an Aged Care Assessment?
An Aged Care Assessment is needed to have the government pay for some or all of a potential resident’s aged care costs and to determine what level of service is most suitable.
The outcome of this assessment will be communicated in writing through a letter outlining whether they are eligible for government subsidised aged care services and what level of service they are able to get.
If you have completed an Aged Care Assessment but it was a little while ago and since then you or your loved ones situation and health needs have changed, it is important to get re-assessed.
In addition, if you or your loved one are already in aged care, but any care requirements have changed, speak with the current provider about reviewing your aged care plan. The Service Provider will then get in touch with your Aged Care Assessor. They will be able to determine whether the support plan can be amended, or a re-assessment is required.
If you wish to skip this step all together and do not want to do an Aged Care Assessment, then you will be liable to pay private fees for aged care services.
Because each situation is different, we would recommend contacting the Aged Care Decisions Placement Team to discuss your situation and receive personalised advice on your next steps.
When is the best time to do an Aged Care Assessment?
Completing an Aged Care Assessment is the first step before accessing aged care as it helps to determine what level of care is required and how much government subsidy has been approved for the potential aged care resident.
Once the assessment is completed, you will be issued with a letter that contains the referral codes that are required by the aged care services or facilities.
If you have an urgent situation and have not completed the assessment, you will not always need it completed before being able to access Aged Care.
The most important thing is getting access to care for either yourself or your loved one, especially if the situation is urgent. By contacting our service on 1300 775 870 we can provide advice on options for your situation regardless of whether you have an Aged Care Assessment or referral letter.
How do I complete the Aged Care Assessment?
An Aged Care Assessment can be arranged by either a GP referral or by contacting My Aged Care. If you are in hospital or rehab the assessment can be expedited by the hospital team caring for you or your loved one, so it is best to ask for it whilst still under their care.
Other people who look after you or your loved one, such as GP’s, physiotherapists, social workers, carers or other community support workers can arrange an Aged Care Assessment on your behalf.
Aged Care Decisions is not currently able to organise an Aged Care Assessment on your behalf. You will need to contact My Aged Care to organise one with their team.
An assessment can be requested online by going to www.myagedcare.gov.au or call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422
Assessment Process Overview:
- The assessment interview will occur within 4 to 6 weeks of a request being submitted online or by telephone.
- If the potential resident is in hospital, an assessment will occur within 1-5 days.
- The assessment itself takes approximately three hours and can occur in a potential resident’s own home, or in a hospital.
- An assessment outcome letter will typically be sent within a week of an assessment occurring.
What do I need for the Aged Care Assessment?
The assessment is a face-to-face interview that will be based around a non-formal discussion on you or your loved one’s current situation. In some special circumstances, this interview may be able to be conducted over the phone or via video. Please check with the My Aged Care team about their current interview process.
The Aged Care Assessment does not require the potential resident to fill in any forms, but the following information about the person seeking aged care services will be required.
- How day-to-day activities are managed, and how much help is needed to fulfil them.
- State of health. Medical evidence will be required, such as doctors’ reports, hospital discharge reports, current and past pharmaceutical prescriptions, details on diagnosed illnesses.
- How much assistance is currently required to live at home – e.g., getting in and out of bed, using bathroom and toileting facilities, details on how meals are currently prepared.
- Whether respite or other formal home care services have been used or are currently being used.
A trusted person can assist the potential resident during the assessment (whether it is a family member, nominated representative, or a carer). The assessment occurs as a two-way conversation; therefore, the person being assessed can also ask any relevant questions.
What is a support plan?
During the assessment, a great deal of information will be discussed. The support plan is a record of what was discussed and agreed to during the Aged Care Assessment meeting. This will cover a whole range of topics including the following:
- your strengths
- your difficulties
- your goals
- what you would like to achieve
- what preferences you have for your services
The purpose of the support plan is to set out the care and services that will be best for you. Depending on the support levels required, this can be available from service providers or it could be readily available for access in your community.
What if I do the assessment but they do not think I need residential aged care?
If a potential resident has not been approved for aged care services via the assessment outcome letter, a reassessment can be organised if a change occurs in medical circumstances or coping abilities.
There are other care options available that are government funded or have private payment options. Our team at Aged Care Decisions can help you explore those options or point you in the right direction.
One of the options you might be eligible for is home care. This is where you will be able to continue living independently in your own home but will have a level of funding approved to receive support. This can include activities around the home such as cleaning, cooking, shopping or general daily self-care and health care. This will be determined by the ACAT based on your level of care requirements and financial situation.
You may be eligible for a home care package if you have been assessed as needing care due to the following:
- noticed a change in what you can do or remember
- been diagnosed with a medical condition or reduced mobility
- experienced a change in family care arrangements
- experienced a recent fall or hospital admission.
The other option, that is not government funded, is purchasing a home in a retirement / independent living village. If you are not yet ready for aged care, being part of a retirement village community with various activities and services on offer might suit your loved ones current needs.
If a health issues as arisen, you may need short term care at home, in hospital or in respite. This can be discussed with your health care team and My Aged Care.
Referral codes explained
Aged Care Assessment outcome letters issued after 2016 will contain a series of 12-digit referral codes (e.g. 1-12345678901).
You may see Referral Codes for ‘Residential-Permanent’, ‘Residential Respite – Low Care’ or ‘Residential Respite – High Care’. A referral code approves a person for certain types of government subsidised services.
These codes may be required for Aged Care Decisions to gather appropriate aged care vacancy options. An aged care provider will then use these codes to view a potential resident’s care plan and aged care assessment.
What is the difference between aged care homes, aged care facilities and nursing homes?
These are all different ways to describe the same aged care service. Residential aged care may be funded by the government, depending on the outcome of your aged care assessment and your care needs. The next step is finding the aged care in your area that has availability and will suit your needs.
If you need help in the next step of finding aged care, please fill out this form for us to get in touch. One of our aged care experts can help guide you through your journey to make it as easy and streamlined as possible.
On the other hand, retirement villages or independent living units, are not the same as aged care homes. They are also not subsidised or regulated by the Australian Government. This might be the option for you right now, instead of aged care, if you have lower care needs and would like to have a range of services in the one spot dedicated to older people.
Aged Care can be complicated but the job of the aged care experts here at Aged Care Decisions is to make the process of placing a loved one into aged care less stressful and more streamlined. To discuss how we can assist, please give our team a call on 1300 775 870 or fill in this form and we will give you a call when it suits you.