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How to apply for a nursing home

As soon as you have been approved by an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/S) for Government funded residential care you can begin looking for your future home.

Last updated: June 1st 2022
Older man applying to a home
You should apply to multiple nursing homes, as they don't know when a bed vacancy will become available. [Source: iStock]

Key points:

  • A respite stay at a facility can give you an idea of what it might be like to live there
  • You can apply for multiple aged care homes at the same time to increase your changes of getting a bed placement
  • Bed vacancies can open up sporadically and it can be difficult to know how long you may be waiting to receive a placement

You can do this yourself or you can hire a placement consultant to do this for you.

When searching for nursing homes, decide what features are important to you. Are you looking for an extra service facility, a specific cultural environment or a facility with pets?

It is important to be clear about what you're looking for and also to understand the types of homes that are available in your area because this may affect the cost and services you receive.

You can search for aged care homes in your area on the AgedCareGuide.com.au.

During your search it is recommended that you visit as many homes as possible, just as you would when buying or renting a house. This will allow you to get a feel for the culture of the home and its surroundings.

You can also use residential respite as a way of finding out about the quality of care at a nursing home before deciding if the home is a good place for you to move into.



Applying to aged care homes

You can start going through the process of applying for nursing homes once you have been accessed and approved by an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT everywhere in Australia, ACAS in Victoria). You can learn more about getting assessed in our article, 'What is an aged care assessment and how does it work'.

Your first step is searching and making a shortlist of aged care providers. You can utilise the AgedCareGuide.com.au nursing home directory to find a facility, or facilities, near you that suit your personal needs.

Once you have made a shortlist of aged care providers, you can start contacting providers to find out more information about the facility, for instance, the costs and fees, accommodation payment, the rules and regulations of the facility, and what they can offer you in the way of care.

You may have a couple of facilities that meet your needs and have a nice environment.

When you have narrowed down which homes would suit your needs and wants, it is best to apply to a number of homes to increase your chances of finding a place quickly.

You will need to fill out an application form with all your information. Discuss this with each aged care home, as some providers have their own application forms and processes you need to follow.

In the application, you will need to provide the referral code you received from My Aged Care, so they can view your aged care information and determine if they can provide and meet your aged care needs.

Additionally, your provider may request your ACAT assessment result and the outcome of your financial assessment by Centrelink. If a facility asked for any financial information because Services Australia hasn't sent it through yet, you do not have to provide it if you don't want to.

You need to fill out your financial information (in a Residential Aged Care Calculation of your cost of care (SA457) form) and be assessed by Centrelink if you want subsidised aged care. You will need to fill out this form prior to you entering aged care and the outcome of this financial assessment is valid for 120 days.

If you don't have this assessment ready, you may have to pay the full cost of your care until the assessment has been processed, and this can take time.

Some of the personal information you may need to provide includes:

  • Who your emergency contact and next of kin is, your nominated representative who speaks on your behalf (if you have one) and their contact details, your health insurance providers, medicare details and pension details
  • What your preferred language is and if you have a culturally diverse background
  • Any previous experiences you have had with the aged care sector, like transition care or home care
  • Whether you need general aged care or high levels of care, like dementia care
  • Your timeframe for moving into a home

Aside from your ACAT assessment, a provider may ask for additional information from you about your health and wellbeing to capture any changes, such as your continence status, your current mobility and if you are at risk of falls, need mental health support, take medication, and much more.

This may also include lifestyle information, like your food and drink preferences and allergies, what hobbies you enjoy and what leisure activities you would like to be involved in.

Your personal information will be kept safe and confidential by the aged care providers you approach and apply for.

It can be a good idea to send applications to a couple of aged care homes you like, as you will likely be put on a waiting list for each aged care home you apply for.

Accepting an offer

Nursing homes cannot predict or know when a vacancy will become available and if you only apply to one home you could be waiting quite a long time.

Once a spot becomes available at an aged care home you applied for, they will contact you about the open place.

You will then need to consider if this facility is high up on your shortlist and what timeframe they have provided you for moving in.

If you accept the offer, you will need to go through the process of entering a legal agreement with your provider. You can learn more in our article, 'What you need to know about your resident agreement'.

Getting notice of a bed offer and then moving into an aged care home can happen quite quickly, and if you accept one place at a nursing home, your name will be removed from the waiting lists of other facilities.

If you don't think the facility is suitable or it isn't your preferred aged care home, you don't have to accept the offer. But you will need to wait until another bed offer is made from another facility.

What are you looking for in an aged care facility? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Introduction to nursing homes
Urgent admission into aged care
Supported Residential Services and Facilities (SRS/SRF)

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