The only two pieces of aged care advice you need
There are no guarantees when it comes to aged care. Securing a spot in a high quality, conveniently-located facility depends on myriad factors, including the outcome of a compulsory assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), the availability of places, and a person’s ability to fund costs like an aged care bond, commonly referred to as a Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD).
Basically, all the stars need to align. In some ways, this creates a more level playing field.
Since most aged care homes are government-funded or government-subsided, everyone seeking a place must undergo a face-to-face ACAT assessment, regardless of their financial position.
Moving in with the kids is not a realistic aged care solution for most Australians, making it essential for households to plan ahead and understand their options well in advance. Pride Advice’s Malcolm Brown explains how.
An ACAT assessment determines a candidate’s health and medical condition, and is used to recommend the appropriate type and level of care.
The types of care an ACAT can assess for include:
- Home care packages
- Short-term options such as transition care or respite care
- Residential aged care homes
If an ACAT assessment deems that aged care services are not yet required, that person will be ineligible.
With so many moving parts, planning is essential. While it is impossible to predict when someone will need aged care, given the catalyst is often an accident, fall or sudden illness, the statistics show that around 1.2 million1 Australians depend on aged care assistance, including 216,0002 in residential care.
Unfortunately, in many cases, people are forced to make rash decisions about their future from their hospital bed, before being kicked out.
As such, older Australians and their families need to understand the aged care process and prepare a checklist of things to do and people to call as soon as it becomes apparent that aged care services are necessary.
Aged care checklist: two main things to remember
Contact your financial advisor
Get in touch with your financial adviser as soon as possible. If Wills and Powers of Attorney and Guardianship are not in place, or up-to-date, an adviser can reach out to a solicitor and help arrange this quickly.
If it becomes clear that a person requires residential aged care, they can recommend a local aged care placement agency (see point 2) and work out the best way to fund upfront and ongoing costs, including the RAD.
When a member of a couple is going into care but their partner is not, an adviser can explain the financial implications and determine an optimal solution for both parties.
For some people, such as those solely dependent on the age pension, the options available to them may be limited.
However, for those in a stronger financial positon, an adviser who understands the Centrelink and superannuation rules can add significant value.
For example, in some cases it may be financially beneficial to pay a higher RAD in order to qualify for the full age pension, and use pension entitlements to offset ongoing fees.
Contact a local aged care placement agency
For a one-off cost of between $1,300 and $2,500, depending on the services required, an agency can minimise the stress, hassle and time it takes to find a suitable solution.
For those in need of residential care, consultants have extensive knowledge about the aged care homes in their area, including their facilities, culture and management. This, combined with the information they receive about a client’s needs and preferences, enables them to find a good match.
For example, if a client can only speak a foreign language, like Italian or Mandarin, a placement agency can find a home with carers and other residents who can speak their language.
An aged care consultant can advocate on a client’s behalf to explain their situation and provide a strong indication of the best facilities available.
They can complete paperwork and submit applications on a client’s behalf, taking pressure off families during what is usually an extremely difficult and emotional time.
While there are other important aged care considerations, remembering a checklist of ten points under pressure is not easy.
If, and when, the time comes, you can only remember these two, you’ll be in a strong position to get the right outcomes.