Questions to ask when choosing an aged care facility


Finding the right aged care facility can help you settle in and enjoy your new home sooner. Each residential aged care home is different, so it’s a good idea to visit a few before making a decision. Amongst many things you can do, it’s important to ask plenty of questions before and during your tour of the facility.

You can make sure you’re prepared by thinking about what is important to you in a home. Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of the time you spend touring each facility. Here are some elements to consider when writing your own list of tailored questions.

Questions to ask before or during your aged care tour

Everyone has their own expectations, needs and wants for their new aged care home. Here are some of the most common topics you may want to explore when considering the questions you ask on your tour.

  • Fee structure
  • Activities for residents
  • Health and wellness
  • Staff-to-resident ratio
  • Structure of visits
  • Room sizes and common areas
  • Outdoor areas and gardens

Asking about these elements will help you narrow your search and find the home that suits your individual needs.

Aged care fee structure

Budget is often an important consideration when looking for an aged care facility. Although the Australian Government sets the basic daily fee, facilities may have additional services that cost extra. Asking about each facility’s fee structure will help you create a shortlist of your preferred facilities.

Questions to ask include:

  • What services are included in the basic daily fee?
  • How much is the Residential Accommodation Deposit (RAD)?
  • When does RAD need to be paid?
  • Do you charge an extra service fee?
  • What additional services does the facility offer?
  • How much is the fee for each additional service? (the ones you are interested in)

Read here  for more information about the general aged care fee structure.

Activities for residents

A residential aged care home’s activities can set them apart from other homes, especially if they offer something you love to do. Aged care activities offer residents the opportunity to socialise regularly, while doing something that engages the mind and body.

Many facilities offer music, painting, drawing, arts and crafts, exercise, gardening, yoga and more. You can request a schedule of activities from potential aged care homes to compare. If you find some places that offer the right activities, you can book your tour for when scheduled aged care activities are being run. That way, you can watch how residents engage with the activity, with the organiser and with each other.

Questions to ask include:

  • What social activities do you offer residents?
  • Can I suggest other ideas if there is something I am interested in?
  • Do you have a schedule for regular activities?
  • Are there organised social outings outside of the facility?
  • Do any of the activities incur extra fees?
  • Are there social groups or clubs at the facility?

Read here for more information about the general aged care fee structure.


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Health and wellness

It’s crucial that your new home provides a safe place that supports your health and wellbeing. Here are some questions you could ask to make sure your new home will offer everything you need to keep healthy:

  • Are regular exercise programs offered to aged care residents to support fitness?
  • How do you support the mental health of each aged care resident?
  • Do residents have access to a psychologist or counsellor?
  • Does the facility offer relaxation activities or massage?
  • Do the activities provide plenty of opportunity to socialise and build relationships?
  • Is there a pool or gym for exercise?
  • Does the facility offer additional services and support for residents with dementia (if applicable)?

Staff-to-resident ratio

The staff-to-resident ratio can affect the level of care offered at an aged care facility. If more staff are available, they can attend to your needs more easily than when fewer staff are available. Staff who care for more aged care residents may be more stressed and have less time available to help each resident.

For optimal care, you should opt for an aged care facility that has a higher staff-to-resident ratio. Here are some questions to ask:

  • How many hours of care per day do staff members provide to each resident?
  • What percentage of staff are registered nurses?
  • What percentage of staff are enrolled nurses?
  • What percentage of staff are personal care workers?
  • How many staff members provide care at night time?

Structure of family visits

Visits from family and friends are often a highlight, so it’s a good idea to know how visits are structured. Some facilities may have new systems in place as a result of the covid pandemic, and others may have restrictions. In this time of uncertainty, it pays to know how each facility structures visits and manages any enforced restrictions before you move in.

Questions you could ask include:

  • Do you have a visitors policy?
  • How are visits structured?
  • Is there an entry and exit process to follow?
  • Does the facility currently use a visitor booking system?
  • What is included in your covid-safe plan?
  • How can I contact friends and family?
  • How does the facility support aged care residents during lockdown?

Room sizes and common areas

Once you understand the facility’s fees, activities, health and wellness support, staff and visiting structure, it’s time to learn more about the space that will be available to you.

Obviously, an important consideration is room size. Your room in an aged care home will be your own personal space, so it makes sense to choose the room that feels right for you. Likewise, common areas expand your living space, making them another important consideration.

You could ask:

  • How big are the rooms?
  • What are the different room types at the facility?
  • Am I able to personalise my room with my own belongings?
  • Can I view a room where someone is staying?
  • Can I view the common spaces inside the facility?
  • Are there set times for access to common areas?
  • Can my friends and family access common areas during their visit?

Outdoor access and gardens

It’s important that you have access to well-maintained outdoor areas and gardens. Some activities may be run outside. You can also spend your own time outside, as well as time with family and friends. You could ask some of these questions to better understand how to access outdoor areas and gardens:

  • Which rooms have easy access to outdoor areas?
  • Are there activities that are run outside?
  • What types of areas do residents have access to?
  • Can residents visit the gardens anytime?
  • How are gardens maintained?
  • Can residents participate in gardening?

Who can help me choose an aged care facility?

The Aged Care Decisions team is here to support you through your aged care journey. We work with over 800 aged care providers and can provide you with a list of providers that suit your needs. If you have any questions about aged care and how to choose a provider, call us for a chat on 1300 775 870. You can also register via our online form and one of our specialists will be in touch.


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