Taking the first steps to aged care


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The steps for aged care

Ideally we will all be able to stay in our homes as we grow older. But sometimes the best option is move into residential aged care.

This can be a confusing and stressful time for the older person and their family. Understanding the steps and where to get advice can reduce the stress and help you make informed choices.

Step 1: Decide on strategy and preferences

Decisions may be best made as a family. Start by getting members together to discuss options and preferences and allocate tasks. A family meeting may also provide an opportunity to explore everyone's concerns. If you have a financial planner, they may be able to facilitate this meeting for you.

Step 2: Get an ACAT assessment

Before you can access the government subsidies, an aged care assessment team (ACAT) review is needed. You may need to wait several weeks for a meeting, so book this as soon as possible. Phone 1800 200 422 or find details at www.myagedcare.gov.au.

Step 3: Choose a service provider

Think about what is important in deciding where to live. Make a list. This should include location, amenities and health needs.

This will help you develop a shortlist of potential services to contact or visit. But first check the fees for accommodation and services to ensure it is affordable. You can compare prices at www.myagedcare.gov.au.

Once you have selected a preferred place, you can arrange a visit and be added to the waiting list.

Step 4: Understand the fee structure

The costs for residential care are split into accommodation, living expenses and extra services. How much you have to pay may depend on the provider and assessable income and assets.

Calculating the fees and how to structure finances to pay the fees can be particularly complex. A financial planner who is experienced in aged care advice can help with these decisions.

If you don't already have a planner you can try the "find a professional" service at agedcaresteps.com.au.

Step 5: Make the move

Once a place is offered you will need to sign a resident agreement and make all the arrangements for the move. This will include deciding what to do with the former home and choosing what personal items to take with you.

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