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Getting assessed and finding the right nursing home

Understanding the processes before you can move into an aged care home doesn’t need to be difficult.

Last updated: May 29th 2024
Older woman getting a referral. [Source: Shutterstock]

Older woman getting a referral. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • An ACAT/ACAS assessment is free from the Government and undertaken by medical professionals
  • Once you have a letter of eligibility, you can start looking at nursing homes
  • You should shop around nursing homes like you would if you were buying a house

This guide will bring you up to speed so let’s get started!

Get a referral for an assessment

It is best to first speak with your doctor, who will refer you to an assessment service to assess your needs.

Consultations are provided by your local Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), or if you live in Victoria – Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS).

Referrals are also accepted from family or friends, hospital social workers, local community service providers, residential facilities or anyone with a legitimate interest in the person requiring care.

However, you don’t need to get a referral for an ACAT/ACAS assessment, you can contact My Aged Care directly – the Government portal for aged care services – to organise an assessment. Visit the My Aged Care website to get an assessment sorted or call on 1800 200 422.

A man and his wife talking with an ACAT member

Receive your free ACAT assessment

A member of your local ACAT will visit you in your home or in hospital to determine the best care options for your situation.

There will be no charge for the assessment as the service is Government funded.

While an ACAT/S cannot make recommendations about individual aged care homes, they can provide you with information to assist you to make a decision.

Once you have completed the assessment, you’ll receive a letter detailing what type of services you’re eligible for, the reasons why and your care plan.

Your letter proves you’re eligible to receive specific Australian Government subsidised aged care services  so don’t lose it! This letter will include information on codes you need to give to providers to access care and accommodation, which will also be available on your My Aged Care account.

A woman talking with an aged carer in a nice home

Find and inspect chosen aged care homes

Now that you’ve received your letter of eligibility you’re free to start inspecting aged care homes.

It is recommended that you inspect as many potential homes as possible, just as you would when buying or renting a house. This will help you to gauge the feel and culture of the home. You can learn more about choosing a nursing home in this article: What to consider when deciding on a nursing home.

The process takes time so if the situation is urgent then you may want to contact a private provider, who are more likely to respond very quickly to your request sometimes in a matter of hours.

Government funded services usually need more time to understand, access and begin to receive services. If private services cannot be afforded, then in emergencies it is best to contact a General Practitioner or local hospital.

Did you know you can use our website to search for homes in the area you’d like to live? displays the contact details for each home so you can easily arrange inspection times.

Choosing a suitable nursing home

Press the play button below to listen to this great podcast about choosing a suitable nursing home.

More resources

How have you found the assessment process for aged care? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

How to apply for a nursing home
Introduction to nursing homes
What is an aged care assessment and how does it work?

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