When more care is needed, aged care services can be important. You will need to learn about the different types of aged care services that are available and what is involved in accessing them.
The comfort of your own home is important for most people. We also want to live as fully and independently as possible. Being able to stay at home can help an older person stay connected to their family, friends, social groups, and community. Home is familiar and we understand our space and routines.
However, as we age, we can need more help and support to remain at home and this may mean accessing formal aged cares services. It can be confronting and confusing to think that as an older person you need this level of support.
It can also be hard for families to recognise and discuss changing care needs. Families can worry about whether an older member of the family is safe at home. They may be concerned about accidents or falls. They may realise that it is harder to keep the house and garden clean and maintained.
Families often worry that a parent or older family member is becoming forgetful or confused and that they cannot manage dressing and personal hygiene.
This can lead to discussions about care needs and how to meet them and whether aged care services are needed.
There are different types of aged services available to help older people maintain a good quality of life as they get older.
Government-funded aged care services are available to eligible people.
These services include in-home care (care in your home), residential care in aged care (nursing) homes, and short-term care such as respite care.
The steps below can get you started on understanding and deciding what is best.
Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act (ROACA) Key Facts (1.10MB pdf)
Before you start the process of looking for aged care services, it can be helpful to think about and make notes about your needs. Talk to a family member or friend about what you are thinking and what you are looking for.
Common types of aged care needs include help with everyday living, equipment needs, home modifications, personal care, health care and accommodation.
The Commonwealth Government provides three main types of aged care services.
Help at home means you can continue to live independently in your own home for as long as possible. The types of help include meals and food services, personal care services, nursing care and allied health services, assistance with domestic tasks, home maintenance and modifications, transport services and social support. Respite care gives the older person and/or their carer a break for a short period of time.
Short-term care provides care and support services for a set period of time. Short term restorative care aims to slow or reverse difficulties and provide ways of managing them for yourself. Transition care helps older people recover and regain independence after a stay in hospital. Care aims to help you with day-to-day tasks and either restore or maintain your independence.
An aged care home (sometimes known as a nursing home or residential aged care facility) is for older people who can no longer live at home and need ongoing help with everyday tasks or health care.
There are charges associated with aged care services. You will need to gather some information about your and your partner’s financial situation. You will need to be able to provide information on your combined income, assets and debts. How much you pay for aged care support depends on the type of help you need, the provider you choose, your financial situation, and the services you receive.
If you are eligible for Commonwealth Home Support Programme services you will be expected to pay your provider for the services you receive at a subsidised rate, if you can afford to.
If you are eligible for a Home Care Package, you may have to pay a basic daily fee, or a basic daily fee and an income-tested care fee.
If you are eligible for short-term care, you may have to pay a daily fee. The costs you may be asked to pay will vary depending on the type of short-term care you receive.
Costs for an aged care home involve a basic daily fee, or a basic daily fee and accommodation costs, or a basic daily fee and a means-tested care fee and accommodation cost.
Costs seem complicated so don’t be afraid to ask questions. It can be helpful to have a family member or friend help you with these discussions.
Once you have decided that you do need support and services, you will need to apply and be assessed. The first step to access government-funded aged care services is to check your eligibility for a face-to-face assessment. You can contact centre staff to talk about your needs on 1800 200 422 or you can apply online. If you are eligible, a face to face assessment will be organised.
After your face-to-face assessment, you will find out if you’re eligible for government-funded services and which ones you're eligible for.
You can use the MyAgedCare website to find a provider near you. Each aged care provider delivers their services differently and charges different costs.
So it’s important to look around and compare providers before deciding who to get your services from.
When you start with an aged care services provider, they will work with you on a package of care that is right for you. There may also be times when you need to make some changes to your services. For example, you might be going on holidays and not need services for a couple of weeks, or your needs may have changed.
Remember that you have the right to talk about your services if you are not happy or feel they are not meeting your needs.
Most aged care services in Australia are government funded aged care services. You need to meet eligibility criteria to access these services. There are also private providers offering residential aged care or home care that do not receive subsidies from the Australian Government.
This means that you are required to pay the full costs of these services. Aged Care Online maintains a list of private providers in each state.
This information was drawn from the following resources:
Visit the MyAged Care website
Read Services Australia's information about aged care costs
Visit the palliAGED website for end of life information
Last updated 29 January 2024