What You Need to Know about Australia’s Residential Aged Care

Residential aged care is one of the programs of the Australian government that provides assistance to senior citizens who can no longer live on their own at home. The country’s health department funds the program to make it more affordable and accessible to Australians and ensure that they are getting quality care from professionals.

As much as the government respects the citizens’ wishes to live independently in the comforts of their own homes, there comes a time when this is no longer possible and it’s better for them to be assisted by healthcare professionals in an aged care home.

Am I qualified for residential aged care? What can I expect from the program?

The subsidized residential aged care is open to residents who meet the qualifications of the Aged Care Assessment Teams. The assessors that form part of the team are tasked to identify residents who are in most need of aged care, particularly those with debilitating conditions and cannot afford admittance to a private nursing facility.

Once admitted to the program, residential aged care homes work on meeting goals in maintaining great health and well-being to the residents. These goals include providing accommodation and help in daily tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and laundry, as well as assistance in dressing, bathing, and going to the toilet.

But more than the physical aid, professionals at aged care homes also provide access to health care services, clinical care, therapies, and entertainment services.

How much am I looking to be part of a residential aged care program?

While the government subsidizes residential aged care homes, there are still operational costs that need to be met. This allows the facility to maintain a great living environment for its residents and ensure that all their needs are well taken care of.

That being said, you can expect to shell out a good amount of money for your stay at the care home. The costs vary depending on the facility, the type of care you need, and the accommodation you wish to stay in.

Most residential aged care homes follow a standard basic daily fee for their residents. But on top of the daily fee, there are additional costs that will be determined by Services Australia based on a resident’s paying capacity. This could refer to a means-tested fee or what other facilities call an accommodation contribution.

Another factor that can contribute to your daily costs in the care home is the room price, which varies if you are staying in an individual room or a detached house within the facility. In some cases, this could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The rates are usually agreed upon by the resident and the care home beforehand, so if you are looking to stay at a residential aged care home sometime in the future, you would have to apply to the Aged Care Pricing Commissioner for approval.

But if you want an overview of the costs, you can visit the My Aged Care website for information on costs, how to apply for a subsidized place, and how much you are likely to pay. You can use the fee calculator on May Aged Care’s page to help you compute the amount.

How can I be sure I am being assisted by professionals?

Being a program established by the Department of Health, the government has full authority in the services provided by residential aged care homes. There are institutions that review the applications of facility owners who wish to avail of government subsidies.

Part of the screening process is to ensure that these aged care homes are capable of providing quality health care and respite for their residents, be it short-term or long-term.

The program is guided by the Aged Care Act 1997, which aims to give senior Australians the best care possible. The Act is also responsible for subsidization and policy development for further improvements in the residential aged care program. Meanwhile, grants are allocated to providers through the Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR).

While aged care home providers have the say in hiring their personnel, the Act ensures that only those who are capable of taking care of the elderly are given the opportunity to do so. This even includes concerns with some facilities being marked as LGBTI friendly aged care provider. This shows how much the government takes this situation seriously.

I only intend to stay at an aged care home for a short while. Is this possible?

For senior Australians who only need assistance for a brief period, the program also offers residential respite care or what others refer to as short-term care. This setup may either be scheduled or on an emergency basis and may also serve as a temporary change in care agreements.

If you are qualified for the residential aged care, you are entitled to 63 days of subsidized respite care every financial year, which can be extended further up to 21 days upon approval.