Planning for care in the senior years can feel overwhelming, but there are plenty of resources to assist you so there is no need to worry. The Australian Government’s My Aged Care website is a great starting point to help you navigate through the aged care system – or if you prefer, you can speak to an advisor at their contact centre by calling1800 200 422. To help make this process easier, here are the basics steps that you need to know:

1. Establish how much assistance you need

  • If you are living independently in your own home and only require a couple of services to make life easier, you can access a range of Help at Home services. You can contact the service providers directly and they will guide you through what’s next.
  • If you need more assistance, read on.

2. Get a free assessment and any necessary approval

  • For more complex care needs, you will need to get a free consultation and assessment from Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS). From there, they will help you determine which services you need and are eligible for.
  • You don’t need an ACAS assessment for services not subsidised by the government, but if you wish to access the following services, an assessment will be required:

3. Choose your service provider

  • After receiving any necessary approval and choosing the care option that best suits your needs, the next step is to choose your service provider. My Aged Care can assist in finding and recommending providers.
  • Visiting several providers prior to committing is a must, and it’s a good idea to make a list of the criteria that are important to you and your family prior to the visit. In addition to the quality of care, you will want to consider other needs as well – be it physical, spiritual, social or emotional. A good test for whether the service is the right for you is how comfortable and at ease you feel.

4. Determine the cost and plan financially

  • The bulk of aged care services are paid for by the Australia Government and you will never be denied services you need because you can’t afford them. However, you may be asked to contribute to your care costs if it is within your ability to do so. The amount you’ll contribute depends on your ability as determined by your income and assets assessment.
  • For further details, My Aged Care provides a good breakdown and explanation of Home Care Packages costs and Residential Care costs should you choose these options. The Government also provides free financial advisory services as well as financial assistance for those who require further support.

5. Apply for your choice of services

  • Some services (e.g. Residential Care) will require formal applications. Each service provider may have their own application form or process, but you will need to provide your ACAS assessment as well as other applicable documentation (e.g. Centrelink/DVA Assets Assessment when applying for a concessional place).
  • Some service providers may receive multiple applications for limited spaces and you can potentially be placed on a waitlist, so it's a good idea to be open to more than one alternative.