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Things to consider when choosing an Aged Care facility

Information based on current fees and charges from the 1 January 2023.

When moving to permanent Aged Care, one of the big decisions you need to make is what facility do I choose?  In an ideal world, the person moving into care has the opportunity choose a location, inspect facilities and provide their preferences to family members.  The resident to be may even have a chance to trial their preferred facility via short term respite care.

More commonly, a move to permanent aged care is sudden following an accident or medical episode, and it can be up to the family members to make this decision on behalf of the care recipient.

This article will look at some of the considerations when moving to care to help comfort the resident and family in making the right decision.

Researching facilities.

A great first step is to use the ‘find a provider’ function.  The search function will allow you to refine facilities based on suburb which is generally the most important factor.

You can look at an overview of each facility and see what types of rooms they have available, the associated Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) for each room, as well as information on the facility itself. It is important to confirm if your preferred facility has the care capabilities for your needs.  For example, not all facilities will cater for dementia. Also, check if there are any additional costs, either compulsory or optional.

A useful feature is the the ‘Aged Care Star Rating’ which will allow you to easily filter and rank potential facilities. The ratings are judged on compliance, quality measures, residents’ experience & staffing.

Having established a shortlist, the next step is to visit those facilities (if available), talk with the staff and get a “feel” for the facility. If you know people that have resided there, having a chat to them about their experiences can assist in your decision making.

Some facilities may allow a “try before you buy” with respite care.  If approved, you can use up to 63 days per financial year (subject to availability), which can allow residents and their family to experience the facility and services first-hand.

Will I always have my choice of facility?

As a full fee-paying resident who is liable to pay the full cost of the room (RAD/DAP), provided your preferred facility has an available bed, there are generally no further restrictions in being able to reside there.  

If your preferred room isn’t available, the facility may have other types of rooms available.  This can be used in the interim until your preferred room is available. It is not always possible and should be discussed directly with the facility.

For a low-means resident (fully Government subsidised), you typically have less choice.   Most facilities have a limited number of beds available for low-means residences, and once the limit is met, they are in their rights to direct you to another facility.

When considering a facility for your needs, your financial capacity should always be taken into consideration.  At times, you might not be able to afford where you want to live.

What if I want to change my mind?

If you moved into a facility, you are not locked in. If a more desirable facility comes available you have the flexibility to move.

If you have already paid towards your RAD at the current facility, you will need to give your current provider notice, so that they can refund this payment to your bank, allowing it to be available to pay towards the new facility.

When considering a move, you should consider both the financial and health impacts this can have on your situation, and if it is in your best interest.

At the end of the day, your chosen facility is where you are choosing to live and to be cared for, so like when looking to buy a new house, you want to ensure you are making an informed decision and understand the choice you are about to make. Seeking advice on the financial affordability of care from a qualified financial adviser can help ensure that you are choosing a facility that you can afford and how that may look for you.

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