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Myths about aged care homes

Last Updated at August 5th 2021
Some older people struggle to come to terms with the possibility of moving into aged care. 

Key points:

  • Most aged care homes will try to make you feel as comfortable as possible in your new environment

  • To pay for aged care, you can look at other means that don't involve selling your home

  • Many people think of aged care like a hospital, however, the reality is quite different

Older woman with an aged care support worker.
There are many myths and assumptions floating around about aged care that are generally not true. [Source: Shutterstock]

They fear losing independence, their home, and their lifestyle or they don't understand what's involved and have misconceptions about living in a nursing home.

Some of the myths around aged care can add to that confusion. Below we are debunking five aged care myths.

Myth: "It won't feel like home"

Aged care facilities aim to provide you with quality care that fits your needs and how you want to live, but most homes will also try to make you feel at home and as comfortable as possible in your new environment.

If you take time researching aged care facilities, you can find one that fits your needs, including your holistic needs, like religious, spiritual, and social needs.

However, it may be a case that even after all your research, once you have moved in you realise that it isn't the place for you. 

This shouldn't be an issue and you have every right to look for a new facility that fits the life you want to live.

Myth: "I won't be able to afford aged care"

Indeed, aged care is an expensive industry, especially for the Federal Government as they bear most of the cost. Aged care in Australia is not free and whilst the Government provides subsidies to access care, you are expected to bear some of the cost.

Everyone accessing Government subsidised aged care will be subject to a means assessment to see how much they can put towards their care. 

You may have to undertake a means assessment yourself, however, if you are on the Age Pension, Centrelink generally has all the information necessary to do the means assessment for you.

This means assessment will look at your financial assets and figure out how much you will need to pay. No matter how much you pay, you will not be left unable to afford things.

In addition to the means tested care fee, you will need to pay the basic daily fee for day to day services, this will only take up to 85 percent of your pension, which will be paid fortnightly or weekly.

While it will be a large expense to your pension, keep in mind that you won't need to pay for too much once you are living in aged care, as they will provide most of what you need, like food and accommodation.

Lastly, you will have the accommodation payment, which covers the room you will be living in at the facility.

Additionally, in some cases you can pay for part of your accommodation and the Government will cover the rest.

Each aged care facility sets their own pricing for accommodation, so you should take that into consideration when deciding on a nursing home. You can find out more about nursing home costs on the Aged Care Guide.

In your initial search for aged care, you should be looking at the different accommodation that is available and how you fit financially into each home.The current aged care system is built to accommodate all older people, no matter their financial position.

Myth: "I have to sell my home to afford aged care"

Depending on your financial situation, you may not have to sell your home. A lot of older people have years to decades of memories in their homes, it is understandable that they wouldn't want to sell.

While some may choose to sell their house to help cover the accommodation cost of aged care, you may have other options available to you.

There are so many options that can be considered if you need to pay for aged care but don't want to sell your house. For instance, reverse mortgaging your home is one way of getting the money you need without losing your biggest asset or you may choose to rent out your home.

You need to be aware that if you do decide to keep your home, there can be some consequences, like additional fees or implications to your pension.

Your home will not be considered as an asset if you have someone still living in the house, like your partner, a child (that is dependent) or a carer, and meet the Government eligibility requirements.

If you have no one in the house, the value of your home will continue to be counted as a part of your assets test two years after the date you moved into your nursing home. 

Also, if you rent out your home while you are in aged care, it will be counted towards your Age Pension assets test, because you are receiving a form of income.

Talk to a financial advisor and your family about your wishes and options for the house before you move into an aged care facility.

Myth: "It will feel like moving into a hospital"

Aged care does provide a lot of nursing care to their residents, but they are far from being like patients in a hospital.

Nursing homes are being developed every day to be more up-to-date and comfortable for their consumers. This means there is more of an emphasis on friendly décor, a program of lifestyle activities and events, and encouragement to live as independently as possible.

In Australia, aged care homes are not built to provide clinical care that you would find in hospitals, and the Government and providers are aware of that, and the public is still learning that is the case.

Current day aged care homes can range from modern to very homely, and try to fit the likes and dislikes of their residents. Shopping around and visiting different aged care facilities can help you find one that suits your needs.

Myth: "I don't have rights in aged care"

Aged care is in a state of transformation around dignity, respect and independence for older Australians. Even then, older Australians have always had a right to live as they wish in aged care and providers are required to meet Government and public expectations for dignity and respect.

As the aged care system develops over the five-year plan from the Federal Government, you can expect a greater focus on supporting and encouraging the independence of individuals in aged care.

You have the same rights as everyone else in society, so no matter if you are receiving care at home or move into an aged care facility, you have a right to receive support that you have control over and benefits you how you wish.

There are also a lot of laws and regulations in place to protect the rights of older Australians, including the Age Discrimination Act and the Aged Care Act. Additionally, there is a strong advocacy network available so if you do feel you are not being treated fairly they can help you to make sure your rights are being upheld in aged care.

What have you heard about nursing homes that you want to know more about? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Getting assessed and finding the right nursing home
Tips for moving into a nursing home
What costs are involved in nursing homes?

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