What is an ACAT Assessment?

One of the first steps to being approved for aged care support in Australia is to undergo what’s referred to as an ACAT assessment.
What is an ACAT Assessment

What is an ACAT assessment?

Before you or your loved one can move into an aged care facility or acquire at-home care services, you or they must undergo what is referred to as an aged care assessment.

Aged care assessments are carried out to determine the level of care an elderly Australian may need. Without these assessments, it is not possible to individually match seniors with the correct care and services.

Many Australians wonder, “How do I go about my aged care assessment?” “What are my aged care assessment services?” and “Can I do my aged care assessment online?”

Understanding the requirements of the aged care assessment is the first step to accessing the help and support that you or your loved one might need. Here is a detailed explainer to get you started.

Types of aged care assessments

In Australia, there are two different aged care assessments, which are operated by different organisations;

  • The Regional Assessment Service (RAS)
  • The Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT)

Each is provided for different levels of care. Generally, the RAS is for lower levels of care, while the ACAT is focused on seniors with more complex needs.

When they conduct an assessment, Aged Care Assessment Teams use the My Aged Care Assessment portal to manage referrals for assessment, record assessment details and manage client information. This helps ensure information is kept in a central place.

What is My Aged Care Regional Assessment Service?

The Regional Assessment Service is a team who assesses the needs of older Australians who might need some assistance but are not yet ready to move into an aged care facility.

Usually, senior Australians who only need a lower level of support and can still be generally mobile and independent will use the RAS.

The RAS will establish the level of home care needed and how often a helper might be required to visit.

You will find a list of RAS organisations here.

What is ACAT?

 ACAT stands for Aged Care Assessment Team. Their job is to assess the needs of elderly Australians who are ready to move into an aged care facility, or who require at home care to live in a safe, comfortable and supported way.

What is an ACAT assessment?

ACAT assessments are carried out to establish the level of care a senior Australian will require when they are moved into an aged care facility.

The assessment takes note of a senior’s:

  • General health and mobility
  • Current lifestyle
  • Functional abilities (what tasks are still carried out well and which are becoming a struggle)
  • Current level of support
  • Information from the GP

The team uses my aged care assessments to determine what services you or your loved one will need.

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How do I arrange my aged care assessment? 

Arranging your aged care assessment is a five-step process.

1. Eligibility

The first step is to ensure that you or your loved one are eligible for my aged care support services.

The best way is to fill out the My Aged Care assessment application form online here or call the My Aged Care assessment phone number on 1800 200 422.

You will be asked about your:

  • Age
  • Required services
  • Current situation (i.e., ability to manage tasks)
  • Health issues and safety concerns

If you or your loved one are found to be eligible, then you will go on to step two, which is a face-to-face assessment          .

2. Face-to-face assessment

If you or your loved one are approved for a meeting with someone from the My Aged Care assessment team, you will be expected to provide a Medicare number and relevant contact details. This will also be the point when it is decided whether a RAS or ACAT assessment is the right choice for you or your loved one.

It is possible to have someone attend the meeting in place of the applicant if health issues are a concern. If this is the case, the proxy will be required to provide their medicare and contact details as well.

The meeting is when the My Aged Care assessor will review:

  • General health and mobility
  • Current lifestyle
  • Functional abilities (what tasks are still carried out well and which are becoming a struggle)
  • What support is already being received
  • Information from the GP


3. Asset and financial assessment

Step three involves an asset and income assessment of your or your loved one’s finances. It is carried out to establish how much you can afford to pay for your care and whether financial assistance might be necessary.

See more: Schedule of fees and charges for residential and home care

See more: My Aged Care income assessment calculator 

4. Receive your approval for recommended level of care

The outcome of your My Aged Care assessment process will decide the level of care you or your loved one will receive.

This may be:

  • A Home Care Package
  • Short-term restorative care
  • Residential respite care
  • Transition care
  • Relocating to a residential aged care facility

In terms of Home care packages, there are four levels of care, ranging from basic to extensive. At this stage, you should receive a letter that outlines the level of care you or your loved one have been approved for. This may come via your mygov account.

5. Organise your services

The fifth and final stage is for you or your loved one to choose an aged care service provider, whether it is a residential aged care facility or regular visits from a health care worker.

See more: What are the different types of aged care providers?

Now take a look at some My Aged Care assessment questions and answers.

Does my assessment for my aged care support need reviewing?

Yes. You should look into reassessment every few years or whenever you feel that you or your loved one’s needs have changed. If mobility has recently decreased or there is more difficulty in maintaining the household without support, it may be time for a reassessment.

It is also worth having a reassessment if you or your loved one was found ineligible in the past. If conditions have changed, a reassessment could have a different outcome a second time around.

Can I have an ACAT assessment if I am in hospital?

An ACAT or RAS can be carried out when you are in hospital. In fact, it can be a smart idea to request the hospital to arrange an assessment while you are in hospital so that you can transition to care when you are discharged.

How long does it take to get the results from an ACAT assessment?

The results of an ACAT or RAS assessment can take up to six weeks to come in.

The time it takes to organise an assessment in the first place may vary, but it can be fast-tracked if you or your loved one are in a crisis situation or at risk of harm.

What if I disagree with the results?

If you or your loved ones have an ACAT or RAS assessment and disagree with the results, you should firstly reach out to the assessor. If you disagree with the result, then you have two choices:

1. Contact your ACAT assessor: Get in touch with the organisation that sent out your assessor. They will have company policies and provisions to deal with your complaints.

2. Request a review: If you are still unhappy, you can request a review by the Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. You must put your request in writing, preferably in a letter, and outline the reasons you disagree with the assessment outcome.

My Aged Care Assessment has recommended residential aged care: what should I do next?

If you or your loved one have received a recommendation that you seek out residential aged care, then you need to find a suitable facility for you.

There is a lot of thought that needs to go into choosing an aged care facility. Among other things, you need to know:

  • What age care home has the best facilities within your price range?
  • How close is it to friends and family?
  • Are the residents there happy?
  • Does the facility allow personalised services?
  • Are the staff well trained and dedicated?

See more: How to choose an aged care facility

Visit the largest aged care reviews website at https://agedcarereviews.com.au/ to find helpful reviews of facilities near you.

Signs it is time to organise an ACAT assessment

If you are not sure whether or not it is time for a RAS or ACAT assessment, consider whether you or your loved one are:

  • Failing to complete vital household tasks such as washing dishes or cleaning
  • Having frequent falls or accidents
  • Having difficulty moving around
  • In need of help to make it to the toilet or shower
  • Having serious memory lapses
  • Frequently confused
  • Frightened about living alone
  • Unable to prepare or arrange healthy meals

Any of these might be a sign that it is time to arrange an aged care assessment and make the next move. Talk to your GP and contact Aged Care Decisions with any inquiries about finding a suitable provider.

Aged Care Decisions provides assistance to families at every stage of the aged care or home care journey. We work with over 1200 facilities and assist over 6000 families every month, 100% free of charge.

Looking for expert advice?

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