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A Guide to Residential Aged Care (Nursing Homes and Hostels) in Australia

The Commonwealth Government regulates the provision of residential aged care for people who can no longer live independently in their own home. It also subsidizes the cost of residential aged care that is provided to approved recipients by approved providers.

The primary legislation is the Aged Care Act 1997.

If you need help and are wondering whether you are eligible for residential aged care or other services, the first thing to do is to arrange an appointment with your local Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), which may be called an Aged Care Assessment Service in Victoria. There is no charge for an ACAT assessment.

ACATs usually comprise or include local doctors, nurses, social workers and other health professionals who can assess whether you are eligible to receive residential aged care. Even if you are not eligible, an ACAT may be able to suggest other options, such as getting help so that you can continue to live independently at home.

In the past, a distinction was drawn between aged care homes that offered "high level care" (which were commonly known as "nursing homes") and those that offered "low level care" (which were commonly known as "hostels"). From 1 July 2014 this distinction has ceased to apply in relation to permanent residential aged care, although it does continue to apply in relation to temporary respite care.

Once your eligibility for residential aged care has been confirmed by an ACAT, you can apply to any aged care homes you are interested in. With the removal of the distinction between "high level care" and "low level care" referred to above, it is important to make sure that the aged care homes that you consider offer the particular care and services that you require and may need in the future.

All aged care homes have their own application process and you will be asked to submit an application form. Aged care homes may take several matters into account before they offer you a place, even if there is a vacancy. These may include:
  • your care needs
  • their current residents (some aged care homes cater for particular groups, such as veterans, people from particular ethnic or cultural backgrounds or people with particular health conditions, such as dementia)
  • their financial and business needs (these words were taken directly from the MyAgedCare website, but we have not yet managed to work out what they really mean).

More Information?

This Aged Care Guide comprises the following pages:

  1. Overview

  2. Eligibility and Assessment

  3. Fees and Charges

  4. Accreditation Standards and Compliance

  5. Resident Rights and Responsibilities

  6. Residential Respite Care

  7. Advocacy and Complaint Resolution

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