Aged care

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.

Types of aged care services

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.

There are three types of aged care: at home aged care, residential aged care, and transition care and respite care. The Australian Government subsidises a range of these services, but you will be expected to contribute to the cost of your care if you can afford to.

Aged care help at home

To help you stay in your own home for as long as possible, the Government provides subsidised home care that can help with everyday tasks like shopping, cooking and transport; as well as personal care, meal services and nursing care.

To find out more, visit the My Aged Care website.

Residential aged care

If you can no longer live 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.

Paying for residential aged care

Depending on your personal circumstances, you may decide to sell your family home to enter an aged care facility. You will need to complete an asset assessment to determine if you are eligible for assistance with your accommodation costs. Find out more about assets assessments on the My Aged Care website.

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 when you moved into aged care. For more information, call the Department of Human Services on 132 300.

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.

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. For details, visit the My Aged Care website.

Transition 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 break.

After hospital (transition) care

Transition care is short-term care if you've been in hospital and need help with your recovery, or you need time to decide about the best long-term care options.

This type of care can be provided in your own home, in an aged care home or in another health facility. Services include low-intensity therapy, access to a social worker, nursing support for clinical care and personal care. Costs will be agreed with your service provider before you receive the services.

Respite 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. It can be for a few hours, a few days, or longer and can be provided in your home or in another care facility.

Costs vary depending on the type of care you need and your 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.

Steps to take if you need aged care

If 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 costs.
  • Find a service provider - You can find details of different service providers on the My Aged Care website.
  • 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.

If your long-term care needs are changing, find out what care options are available and choose a service that suits your needs.

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Last updated: 06 Mar 2019