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Nursing home waitlists and finding a bed vacancy

Nursing homes don’t always have a place available for you straight away and it is wise to apply for more than one home to increase your chances of finding a place quickly.

Last updated: August 7th 2020
Sometimes, there may be a long wait for a bed vacancy in your chosen aged care facility. [Source: iStock]

Sometimes, there may be a long wait for a bed vacancy in your chosen aged care facility. [Source: iStock]

Key points:

  • If you require a nursing home bed urgently, you may have less opportunity to choose a nursing home you want to move into
  • There is usually a quick turn around between being offered a bed and moving into a nursing home
  • Once you have moved into a nursing home, any other home waiting lists you are on will be dropped

Aged care homes cannot predict or know when a vacancy will occur, so it is important to keep in regular contact with the homes you apply for to ensure they are aware you are still interested in admission to their aged care facility.

Some homes may have waiting lists and the length of these varies between homes. If your situation is urgent, please inform the staff at the home.

If you have registered as a member of you are able to search, manage and save your applications quickly and easily with the use of the online Application Form in our members area.

The Application Form allows members of the Aged Care Guide to send their application details to up to ten facilities per day.

A placement consultant can give you support to apply for residential aged care and manage the process – which can be particularly helpful if you are experiencing stress, for example due to health conditions, financial issues or family relationships.

If a placement consultant is helping you search for a home then they will monitor vacancies for you.

More information on what placement consultants do and how they can help you is available in the information section of the Aged Care Guide website.

You can also browse for placement consultants in your area using the website’s search tool.

What happens when a vacancy occurs?

The person in charge at the aged care home will either ring you, your carer or family directly, or phone the social worker if you are in hospital.

You may be asked to make a decision within hours because there are usually other people also waiting.

You, or the relevant hospital worker, will need to arrange for your transfer to the home as soon as is practicable.

If you are unable to move into a home straight away, you will be given seven days after you have agreed to accept the place to move in. This is called pre-entry leave.

From the date of acceptance of a place in a nursing home, you may be charged for your care and be eligible to receive financial assistance from the Government.

You can find out more about nursing home costs through information guides on this website.

Be aware that if you move into an aged care home that’s not your first choice, your priority on the waiting list of your preferred home will drop.

You should not be charged any fees or be expected to make any donation before you formally accept a place in an aged care home.

There is a different process for finding a bed in an aged care facility if it is urgent that the person needs to access residential care services.

More information on urgent admission into residential aged care can be found here.

How do you plan to decide on what nursing home is best for you? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:
Getting assessed and finding the right nursing home
What you need to know about your Resident Agreement
How to apply for a nursing home


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