Key takeaways

  • There are three types of aged care which range from the ability to live independently or in supplemented accomodation

  • If your relative wants to apply for Government subsidies, they must be assessed by a member of the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT)

  • You may be required to pay fees in a Government subsidised aged care home, so it’s important to work out the costs. 

While there is a strong preference among older Australians to live at home for as long as they can manage1, there may come a time when safety and health needs can no longer be met.

Making the decision to move your loved one into an aged care home doesn’t come easy though— there’s a raft of emotional issues, in addition to financial considerations.

In this article we look at the different types of aged care available and the process required to move into an aged care home.

Types of aged care

There are three main types of aged care.

Help at home: if your relative prefers to live independently, they can receive care at their home (or a retirement village) when needed. This may include help with personal care needs such as showering and cooking meals, medical care, or other domestic support, such as home maintenance.

Short term care: may be required after a hospital stay or if the regular carer is taking a holiday

Aged care home: supplemented accommodation with 24-hour care available. Can be short term or permanent.

Moving into an aged care home

If your relative decides moving into an aged care home is the right move. There are steps required to get the process in motion.

1. Have their needs assessed

To be eligible for Government subsidies, a person must be assessed by a member of the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). This assessment is free and can be done at home, a health centre or hospital.

The ACAT member will ask them a series of questions about their health, mobility and any help that they currently receive at home, to determine whether residential aged care is required based on their needs

2. Finding an aged care home

Once ACAT approval is received, you can start looking for relevant accommodation. When evaluating aged care home options, it’s worth contacting a selection of providers to get a better comparison.

If you’re unsure about the facilities and rooms available in a particular area, you can find out more information by visiting

It may be beneficial to have a list of questions prepared to ensure you receive the information you need.

These questions may include:

  • What kinds of recreational activities are offered?

  • Are the available rooms shared or single rooms, and is there a private ensuite?

  • What types of other services are regularly provided (such as physio or hairdressing services for example)

  • What food and beverage options are available?

  • Will your relative have access to a phone, internet or mobile phone to contact you?

  • Ask to see a brief report of the Health and Safety report. This is a good indicator with regards to, not only incidents that have taken place, but also incidents against residents and incidents of residents against staff.

Understanding your rights and responsibilities as well as those of the service provider will help you make an informed decision and get the best quality care to suit your relative’s needs.

3. Work out the costs

There are a number of fees that may be payable in a Government subsidised aged care home. Some of these fees are fixed and others depend on your relative’s financial circumstances. Government subsidies may also be available.

Here’s a general summary of what your relative could be liable for:

Accommodation fees

Ongoing care fees

Accommodation payment

Basic daily fee

Means-tested fee

Extra services fee

  • Payable as a refundable lump sum; or equivalent non-refundable daily payment;

    or any combination of


  • The resident chooses how to pay this fee

  • You may be eligible for

    Government assistance in paying this fee

  • Generally payable by all residents for all days in care

  • 85% of full Basic Single

    Age Pension (regardless of your actual Pension entitlement)

  • Payable based on a formula that takes into account your income and assets

  • Subject to change if

    circumstances change

  • Annual and lifetime

    caps apply

  • Payable if you select a position with extra services

  • Additional daily amount, set by facility

4. Apply for an aged home

Generally, multiple applications can be submitted when applying for an aged care home and you may have the ability to be placed on a waiting list.

You will be asked if you want to provide details of your relative’s income and assets but you are not legally required to disclose this.

5. Moving your relative in

Just before they move in, you’ll be provided with an Accommodation Agreement. This is a legal document which sets out the terms of the residency as well as rights and responsibilities for your relative and for the aged care facility. You may want to consider seeking legal advice before signing it.

When your relative does move into an aged care home, don’t forget to notify Services Australia (Centrelink) about their new living situation and any other change in circumstances (e.g. sale of their home, assets used to pay lump sum costs).

Speak to us on Phone 1300 765 811 to discuss further.

1 Productivity Commission:

Source: MLC July 2021

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