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Introduction to nursing homes

If you are no longer able to remain living independently at home, moving into a nursing home can ensure quality of life, comfort, and give you peace of mind that you will be well looked after receiving the care you need.

Last updated: May 28th 2024
Nursing homes can have different amenities and feels, and you need to find the right home that suits you and your needs. [Source: Shutterstock]

Nursing homes can have different amenities and feels, and you need to find the right home that suits you and your needs. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • Just because a nursing home costs more doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best option for you
  • Some aged care facilities provide different services or amenities that may suit your personal lifestyle
  • Before settling on a nursing home, make sure to confirm all the related costs for accepting a bed and room in a facility

There are many nursing homes catering to different needs and interests. They can be run by private companies, church groups, charitable organisations or communities.

Also known as residential aged care, aged care home or aged care facility, some nursing homes cater to a specific cultural and linguistic group or offer culturally appropriate services. Others offer specialist nursing care for people with conditions such as dementia.

If you like pets, you may like to choose a home with live-in pets or regularly have animals come to visit.

While there are many different nursing homes to choose from, the cost and what is included are likely to be high priorities in your decision of which home to choose.

What services are included?

Government funded nursing homes must give a certain level of service in order to receive accreditation. You learn more about accreditation in our article, ‘What does accreditation mean in residential aged care?

Services included with living in a nursing home are:

  • the provision of staff continuously on call to provide emergency assistance;
  • assistance with personal care such as bathing, going to the toilet, eating and dressing;
  • support with mobility and communication;
  • help to access specialised therapy services or a health practitioner service;
  • support for people with cognitive impairment, such as dementia.

Nursing homes also provide meals, including special diets, toiletry items such as towels, washers, soap and toilet paper, and general laundry and cleaning services. These amenities and services are also included in the fees you pay.

(Source: Shutterstock)

While included, you may prefer to use your own toiletries or ask family members or friends to wash your clothes but this will not reduce the fee you pay.

The nursing home will provide beds, mattresses, linen, bedside lockers and chairs. However, to make your room more homely, you are often encouraged to bring small items of furniture and other personal belongings such as pictures and ornaments.

The maintenance of buildings and grounds, utility costs i.e. electricity and water and council rates are always included in the general fee.

Nursing homes also provide a range of social and recreational activities, and rehabilitation support at no additional charge. Spiritual needs are catered for and some homes may have a chapel or prayer area available on site.

What’s not included

There may be an extra fee if you require additional care services. These services may include:

  • goods to assist with toileting and continence aids;
  • therapy services such as speech therapy, podiatry, occupational, recreational and physiotherapy;
  • registered nurses to assess, plan and manage care, including complex pain or wound management, palliative care program, special feeding, dialysis and oxygen therapy.

You will need to discuss with your facility how much these services will cost and who to pay if you need additional care services.

(Source: Shutterstock)

Lifestyle services

Nursing homes sometimes provide their residents with additional lifestyle services and activities which may attract additional charges like a hairdresser and beautician, an on-site café, and a direct phone line to the bedroom.

These extra fees will be outlined in your resident agreement and you should be aware that they are there before you sign. You can learn more about your resident agreement in this article: What you need to know about your Resident Agreement.

Extra service beds

Extra service homes receive approval from the Australian Government to offer a higher standard of accommodation, food and services at an additional charge.

The term ‘extra service’ only refers to the standard of accommodation, meals, food and entertainment and not to the level of care. For instance, you may like to pay extra for a bigger room, a glass of wine with the evening meal or perhaps a greater choice of meals.

Always ask the nursing home manager what is included in its general fee and what additional services you may need to pay for. You can learn more about extra services in our article: ‘What are extra services in aged care?

Respite care

Many nursing homes offer respite care. This is the opportunity for both you and your carer to take a break for a few hours, a day, a night or a few weeks.

Before you move into a nursing home, you can use respite care as a way to ensure the home is a ‘good fit’ for you before moving in permanently. You can learn more about respite care in our article: Differences between respite at home and nursing home respite.


Placement consultants

A placement consultant can help you find a nursing home that best suits your needs. They are familiar with the aged care process, know the culture of the homes in their local area and often have advanced knowledge when vacancies become available.

They can also help with the necessary paperwork and application forms.

It’s often well worth considering the services of a placement consultant. They can take over a lot of the stress that comes with searching for and transitioning into a home.

You’ll find a range of well-qualified placement consultants on You can learn more about these aged care professionals in our article: How can a placement consultant assist me?

Why have you started looking into nursing homes? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

How to apply for a nursing home
Urgent admission into aged care
Supported Residential Services and Facilities (SRS/SRF)

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