Moving into a residential aged care facility or seeking assistance to stay at home is something all of us will have to contemplate at some stage. Here’s what to do:

Joan and RonJoan and Ron Desmond at their Edithvale aged care facility.

What’s the first step?

My Aged Care, the gateway to the Australian Government’s new aged care system, is a good place to start.  It includes a website, contact centre and information about services and assessment teams that determine people’s needs and eligibility for services. It also make referrals to service providers of your choice.

And it also provides information and assessments for support services delivered in your home or at a residential aged care facility. Services may include meals, domestic assistance, personal care and social support.

The range of services can seem confusing at first so it’s important to get good advice. My Aged Care will help you access Commonwealth-funded aged care services, including entry level programs through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, Home Care Packages, respite care and residential care (nursing homes).

How do I get assessed?

Registering for My Aged Care is usually done over the phone. Or a family member, service provider or health professional may make a referral on your behalf, with your consent via a web referral form. A My Aged Care representative will call to discuss your needs and determine the most appropriate path based on your needs.

A face-to-face assessment happens in your home by the Regional Assessment Service or Aged Care Assessment Service. In urgent circumstances a referral may be made there and then for services to begin immediately. If this is the case you will get a visit from a My Aged Care assessor which will involve a personalised assessment of your needs and eligibility for services followed by discussion and agreement to set up your My Aged Care Support Plan.

This support plan will help you identify your strengths and areas of difficulty, your goals and what you would like to achieve. The plan will enable you and the assessor to identify the types of support that will best suit you.

What types of support are available through My Aged Care?

There are four main types of support:

  1. Commonwealth Home Support Program
    About 800,000 people receive this service, which is considered ‘entry level’. These include support for people living independently – everything from personal care, housework, food preparation to social support, transport and making home modifications. Most people will be asked to pay a small fee as a contribution to the cost of their support.
  2. Home Care Package
    About 80,000 people get this to maintain living at home. This package is for people with higher needs and provides for a mix of services and support. Home Care Packages are case managed by providers who receive and manage the funding on behalf of the individual. There are four levels of Home Care support, ranging from $8,000 to $48,900 a year. Each person’s needs are assessed to determine eligibility. The Federal Government assesses your income to determine how much you may be asked to contribute towards the cost of their care. All Home Care packages are contestable, which means you can choose to change providers.
  3. Respite Care
    If the person caring for you needs a break, you may be eligible for respite care. Depending on your needs, and the needs of your carer, this may be for a few hours or much longer. It can happen in your home or at facilities such as an overnight respite cottage, day centre or residential care facility.
  4. Residential care (nursing homes)
    About 180,000 people live in residential care. Your needs are assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Service, which also determines your eligibility for residential care. The Federal Government assesses your income and assets to determine the level of contribution you will be asked to make towards the cost of your care.

Receiving services

Once you have agreed to your support plan, the provider you choose to deliver your services will get information about you and what you would like to receive. Again, remember it is entirely up to you which service provider you choose.

Where to get help

Contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or go to www.myagedcare.gov.au

For information about service providers go to ‘Service Finder’ on the My Aged Care website

For information about fees and charges go to www.myagedcare.gov.au/costs