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Assessment and eligibility for aged care services

Before you can access Government subsidised aged care options, such as in home care or to moving into a nursing home, you need to be assessed to work out exactly what level of support you need. 

Key points:

  • My Aged Care will be your first point of contact if you are in looking to access Government funded aged care services

  • A RAS or ACAT/S assessment can determine what services will best suit your needs

  • If you are found eligible for Government funded services, you will then be able to start looking for aged care providers

A older couple getting assessed.
A home support assessment will determine your needs and what support services you are eligible for. [Source: Shutterstock]

The first thing you need to do is register with My Aged Care. This is the agency that looks after all Government funded aged care programs. 

When you first call the My Aged Care Contact Centre, on 1800 200 422, an operator will register you and ask you a number of questions about your personal circumstances and care needs.

These questions will be quite basic and shouldn't take too long. All you will need is your Medicare card when you call as this information is stored with your other details on the My Aged Care database.

Examples of the questions you will be asked are:

  • Are you currently receiving aged care services?

  • Are you getting support from a carer or family member?

  • Can you prepare your own meals and do housework?

  • Do you need assistance taking a shower or bath and do you need help getting dressed?

  • Are there any health concerns or did you have a recent fall?

  • Do you feel lonely or isolated?

  • Are there any safety risks in the home?

The aim of this screening is to figure out what needs and support you require and whether you are eligible for a further assessment in person.

Additionally, the information you provide during this quick process will be recorded on your application, so you don't have to stress about remembering the information you provided during your eligibility check.

If you are worried about doing the eligibility check by yourself, you are allowed to have a family member, friend or carer with you for support while applying online or on the phone.

You can also nominate someone to apply on your behalf. In this case, you will need to appoint your family member, friend or carer as your representative on My Aged Care.

If you are successful in your application, the contact centre operator will refer you for either a RAS or ACAT/S home support assessment.

If the operator determines that you are eligible for basic home support through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) you will be assessed by a Regional Assessment Service (RAS).

Otherwise, if the operator believes you require higher care support, a member of an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/S) will visit you at home to assess you for a Home Care Package (HCP) that will meet your needs.

When you first contact My Aged Care, the contact centre operator will assign you an aged care client number and will open a central client record. This record will eventually contain your information about your assessed needs and Government funded care services you have been found eligible for.

What will a face to face assessment be like?

Your in-person assessment will be a lot more comprehensive than your over the phone eligibility check.

Be open and transparent about your wishes and what you believe will be of assistance around the home.

Your ACAT/S assessor may recommend things you haven't even thought of, which will be of benefit around the home.

If you require higher level care than what a Home Care Package can offer, they may assess you as needing entry into an aged care home.

Checklist for a face to face assessment

To prepare for your face to face assessment, make sure to have:

  • Medicare card and a form of identification, for instance, Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) card, driver's license, passport, or healthcare card

  • Notes or referrals from your doctor

  • Ask a support person to be present for the assessment if you want

  • Prepared questions and information about aged care that you wish to discuss with the assessor so you have a better understanding about services

  • Contact details for your doctor and any other health professionals you see regularly

  • Information on support you receive from others or from the community

  • Have a translator or Auslan interpreter pre-organised if you require it

What to expect

You may need to fill out an Application for Care Form which will be provided by the assessor.

You can expect a conversation with the assessor asking you about your needs or any health problems.

They will ask you about any support you receive, your current lifestyle, any health concerns or chronic illnesses, how you deal with day to day tasks at home, if you struggling with any cognitive issues or memory loss, whether you have problems at home or with personal safety, any activities you engage in with family or in the community, and they will ask if they can chat with your doctor. 

If you have a family member, friend or carer with you, the assessor may ask you for permission to talk to them about any support they believe you might benefit from.

What next?

If you are eligible for CHSP service, you should be told during your face to face assessment. 

However, if you are eligible for a Home Care Package, any short term care options or nursing homes, there will be a period of time where your assessor reviews the information you provided and determines what option best suits you.

They will provide a recommendation to a "decision maker", who will then make the final decision on your case.

You will receive a letter within two weeks of your assessment to let you know if you have been found eligible for aged care services.

Do you believe CHSP or HCP is the best fit for you for in home care support? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

What is the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) for?
Why do I need an ACAT/ACAS assessment?
What is a Home Care Package (HCP)?

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