Q. What is residential aged care?
Residential aged care also known as ‘aged care homes’ and ‘nursing homes’, provide accommodation, activities, social programs, nursing care, personal care, meals, cleaning and laundry to older people.
Most people make the decision to move into an aged care facility when living at home has become too difficult. This could be due to a number of reasons such loneliness and isolation, challenges with mobility, confusion, physical weakness, or just a desire for a more secure environment.
There are hundreds of aged care facilities from which to choose. They vary in terms of the quality and age of the building, the programs on offer, culture, look and feel, food, clinical systems and even gardens. They also vary in terms of costs for accommodation and care.
When you are ready to consider aged care it is advisable to shop around. Look at each facility and judge how it makes you feel when you walk in. Drop in during a meal or during an activity. Meet some of the staff, watch the interaction between the staff and the residents and families, look at the gardens and the common areas as well as the rooms where you might be living.
Ask to meet the manager and perhaps some other staff. Maybe you could come back a second and a third time just to see how things are on other days. This is where you are going to live and you want to be sure.
After you have decided which aged care facility might be suitable as your new home, you can then seek financial advice from one of the many independent aged care financial advisers. A financial adviser will help you decide how to structure your assets and finances to pay for your aged care. Once you have received your financial advice you can negotiate with the aged care provider to enter into an ‘aged care contract’ for accommodation and care. Remember that all of these rules and systems are strictly governed and monitored by the government.
You may be in a situation where you do not have the time to plan, research and consider your options. For instance, you may be in hospital and have been advised by the hospital staff that you need to move directly into an aged care home and need to find a home as soon as possible. In these instances, you will need the support of family or a social worker to help you find a suitable place. Always remember that if you move into a facility and you don’t like it, you can move on to another aged care facility that is more suitable for you.
Here’s what you need to know:
Before moving into an aged care home you will need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team, also known as ACAT* in NSW and the ACT. ACAT’s are usually located in hospitals and comprise multidisciplinary team members such geriatricians, nurses, social workers and physiotherapist. ACAT’s can visit you at home or in hospital. The free ACAT assessment determines the level of care and support you require and the options available to you, these may include receiving help at home or in an aged care facility. No aged care facility will be able to offer you care without an aged care assessment.
To book an aged care assessment, you can talk to your doctor and he will arrange it. Another way is to visit or telephone your local hospital and ask to speak with the aged care assessment team. An appointment with an Aged Care Assessment Team can be booked through MyAgedCare on 1800 200 422 or online. https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/assessment
They will then arrange for a time that is suitable to visit you in your home or at your bedside if you happen to be in hospital. Usually the home visits take up to six weeks, while the hospital assessments are done within a week because they are often urgent.
Once an individual has been assessed, they will have a document that sets out their ‘funded’ care needs. The document is called an Aged Care Assessment Report, or ACAR.
Daily Care Fees
Daily Care fees comprise of a basic care fee, additional services, and depending on your income and assets a means tested care fee.
Basic Care Fees
A basic daily care fee is used for your day-to-day living costs such as meals, cleaning, laundry, heating and cooling. Every care recipient must pay these fees. Set at 85% of the Age Pension, everybody pays this amount, regardless of financial means. This amount is reviewed when the Age Pension is indexed, every 6 months. This is not enough to cover the cost of your care. High income earners may be required to pay higher care fees.
Means Tested Care Fees
An income and assets assessment is needed to determine if you’re eligible for government assistance with your aged care costs. Depending on the results of your means test, you may be asked to pay a contribution toward these fees.
If you have no means test or have been assessed at the highest tier, the maximum amount that you can be asked to pay is the funding claim amount lodged with the government. This can mean that you need to pay as much as $220 per day if you have very high care needs.
To assist with these potentially high costs of care, there is an annual cap of $27,754 per financial year and $66,610 per lifetime on the amount that a person can be asked to contribute to the cost of their care fees. In practice, if you have to pay a means tested care fee, this will start on 1 July each year (or date of entry if you start after 1 July) and run until the cap of $27,754 is reached. Then payment of the charge will be taken over by the government for the rest of that financial year. The process will then start again from 1 July the following year, until the full $66,610 is used up.
For further information please visit: https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/income-and-assets-assessment-aged-care-homes
Additional Services Fees
These fees will vary depending on the service provider and additional services being offered. They are meant to cover extra items, services and activities that are not covered by the basic government funding or the basic care fees. Items such as higher quality food, extra excursions, access to internet or pay TV and many other items. Additional services charges can vary from $5 per day to more than $100 per day. Most providers charge this, however there are still some providers who choose not to charge additional service fees and limit their aged care choices to what is viable with the limits of the basic care funding.
Live Well with St. Basil’s
St Basil’s has chosen to operate our facilities at a higher level of services than the minimum that is funded through government subsidies and the basic daily care fee. This allows us to meet a wider variety of requests for each person and is achieved by charging a small daily fee for the provision of a suite of offerings. The suite of additional services at each St Basil’s facility is different, reflecting the different needs of the residents who live there.
Depending on the facility, these services can include but are not limited to:
- More choice and fresh food options at each meal of the day prepared by our qualified chefs
- Extended breakfast at a time you prefer
- Regular inhouse performances and fully catered events
- Structured art and gardening classes
- Regular bus excursions and outings
- 24/7 nurse call system
- The security of a Registered Nurse always in attendance
- Flexible care routines, where professional carers support an individual’s lifestyle and preferences
- Onsite physiotherapist with targeted attention to your needs and weekly, if not daily, inhouse classes
- Dedicated Customer Service Officers as advocates for the customer experience and communication with family and staff
- Smart TV in your room
- Wifi for you and your guests
- Greek TV channels
- Church services streamed live from our inhouse chapels and Belmore Greek Orthodox church.
For more details on the suite of additional services, ask one of our friendly staff for a pamphlet.