Options and levels of care
If you are looking for aged care services for yourself or for a
family member there are a lot of things to consider and options to
explore. Here we explain the different types of aged care services
available and how to work out what they might cost.
What is aged care?
If you can no longer live independently, or require assistance
in your home, aged care provides you with the living and nursing
care services you may need. This can include residential aged care
in a nursing home or home care services.
Types of aged care
There are three different types of aged care: at home aged care,
care in an aged care home, and transition care and respite
Aged care help at home
Most people want to stay in their own home for as long as
possible. Sometimes family and friends can help with things like
shopping, cooking and transport, allowing you to stay in your home
The Government also provides subsidised home care that can help
with these everyday tasks as well as personal care, meal services
and nursing care. To find out more about help at home, visit the My Aged Care website.
Your consumer rights when it comes to aged care at home
You consumer rights allow you to have greater control over your
home care funding, including the ability to choose and change your
home care provider. You are also protected from misleading conduct
or pressure sales tactics, and unfair contract terms on the
delivery of poor goods or services.
Visit the ACCC website to find out more about your
rights when it comes to aged care at home.
Care in an aged care home
If you can no longer liver at home and need ongoing support with
everyday tasks or health care, you may choose to move to an aged
care home (or a nursing home). This type of care can be permanent
or short-term, and help is available 24 hours a day.
To find out more about aged care homes, visit the My Aged Care website.
Transition care and respite care
Transition and respite care are both short-term care options.
Transition care helps with recovery needs if you have been in
hospital, and respite care helps out if your regular carer needs a
Steps to take if you need aged
If you think you or a loved one need help at home, or to move to
a care facility here are the steps you should take:
- Arrange an Aged Care assessment - This will
determine the level of care required and help you find appropriate
programs and facilities. See the My Aged Care
website for details on ACAT assessments.
- Contact My Aged Care for advice - Call the My
Aged Care Contact Centre on 1800 200 422 or visit the My Aged Care website to
find out what services are available, how you get into them and the
- Find a service provider - You can find details
of different service providers on the My Aged Care
- Assess your finances - You'll need to know the
value of your home and other assets and income to work
out your care fees and/or refundable accommodation
payment. A Department of Human Services Financial Information
Service officer can give you basic information about managing
your finances during your transition to aged care. You may also
want to get some financial advice to maximise your
entitlements and minimise your costs.
Aged care costs
The Australian Government subsidises a range of aged care
services in Australia, however, you will be expected to contribute
to the cost of your care if you can afford to.
The following options are available.
Commonwealth Home Support Programme
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) provides
entry-level home support for older people who need assistance to
keep living independently at home within their community.
The CHSP brings together four programs:
- Commonwealth Home and Community Care (HACC) Program
- Planned respite from the National Respite for Carers Program
- Day Therapy Centres (DTC) Program
- Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged (ACHA)
Those who can afford to contribute to the cost of their care
will be required to do so, however services are still available for
those who can't afford to pay. Your contribution will be discussed
and agreed with the service provider before you receive any
Home care packages
Home care packages help older Australians stay in their home by
providing help with things such as, cleaning, meals, transport,
personal care and nursing care.
There are four levels of packages available. You will need an ACAT assessment to
determine your eligibility and package level.
Home care recipients may be asked to pay a basic daily care fee
and/or an income-tested care fee. The basic daily care fee
can be up to 17.5% of the single basic Age Pension. The
income-tested care fee will be assessed by the Department of Human
Services (DHS) and is based on your financial situation. A schedule of
fees and charges can be found on the Aged Care website.
After hospital (transition) care
This is short-term care for people who have been in hospital and
need help with their recovery, or time to decide about the best
long-term care options.
Transition care can be provided in your own home, in an aged
care home or in other health facility. Services
include low-intensity therapy, access to a social worker,
nursing support for clinical care and personal care.
The costs of transition care will be agreed with your service
provider before services are provided and may include a daily care
Respite care is a form of support for you and your regular
carer. It allows you to get the care you need if your carer needs
time to attend to their needs or take a holiday.
Respite can be for a few hours, a few days, or for longer
periods depending on the needs of you and your carer. Respite care
can be provided in your home or in another care facility.
Costs will vary depending on the type of care you need and your
personal financial circumstances. In-home services are often
charged on an hourly rate. Day care centres and residential
facilities have different charge arrangements which you can
find out from your local service provider.
Residential aged care
This type of care is for people who need more help with
day-to-day tasks or health care. Residential care provides help
with cleaning, cooking, washing, personal care and nursing care. It
includes permanent and respite care.
- A basic daily fee payable by all
residents, capped at 85% of the single person basic Age
- A means-tested care fee which may be
payable based on an assessment of your income and assets.
- A full or partial accommodation
payment depending on your level of income and
- Fees for additional services such as a
higher standard of accommodation and non-standard
The total cost will be different for each resident, based on
their ability to pay. To get an idea of costs based on your
personal circumstances, use the My Aged Care residential
care fee estimator.
Most facilities are required to offer a certain number of places
for people who can't afford to pay accommodation costs.
Selling the family home to
pay for care
The decision to sell the family home to enter a facility will
depend on your personal circumstances and what you have negotiated
with the aged care home you want to move to.
Your home is generally counted as an asset unless:
- your partner or dependent child lives there
- a carer who is eligible for an Australian Government income
support payment has been living there for at least 2 years, or
- a close relative who is eligible for an Australian Government
income support payment has been living there for at least 5
Find out more about assets assessments on the My Aged Care website.
If you don't want to sell your home but are being asked to pay a
refundable accommodation payment, the care provider may allow
you to make a periodic payment instead.
If you move into a residential care facility without selling
your home, it will be exempt from the Age Pension assets test for 2
years from the date you move into care. The start date for the 2
year exemption may vary if you are, or were, a member of a couple
at the time you moved into aged care. For more information call the
Human Services on 132 300.
A lump sum refundable accommodation payment paid to a provider
is exempt from the Age Pension assets test.
Renting out the family home
to pay for care
If you rent your home to pay for periodic accommodation
payments, the value of your former home may count towards the Aged
Care and Centrelink income and assets test, depending on when you
entered aged care.
- If you moved into aged care before 1 Jan
2016 - While you are making periodic payments, your former
home and net rent will be exempt from the Centrelink income and
assets tests. It will be exempt from the Aged Care income test
but counted as an asset under the Aged Care asset test, however the
value is capped.
- If you moved into aged care between 1 Jan 2016 and 31
Dec 2016 - While you are making periodic payments, your
former home and net rent will be exempt from the Centrelink income
and assets tests. Your home and rental income will be assessed
under the Aged Care asset and income tests, however the value of
your home is capped.
- If you moved into aged care on or after 1 Jan
2017 - While you are making periodic payments, your former
home can be exempted for up to 2 years under the Centrelink assets
test but will be assessable for Aged Care. A capped value
applies to the Aged Care assessment. Your net rent will be
assessable for both Aged Care and Centrelink.
If your long-term care needs are changing, find
out what care options are available and choose a service that suits
Last updated: 27 Aug 2018