ACAT assessments

If you need some help at home or are considering moving into an aged care home, you may first need a free assessment with a member of an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT)*. An ACAT will talk to you about your current situation and work out if you are eligible to receive government-subsidised aged care services.

If you can receive aged care services, an ACAT assessment will help you access the right services for your needs and the level of care you require. This might be low-level or high-level care, but your ACAT can explain these to you.

The assessment can help identify the type of care services to help you to stay at home. It can also provide you with eligibility for care in an aged care home. Remember, your wishes are always listened to and considered, and you will never be forced to make any decisions about your future during your assessment.

The assessment is an opportunity to identify options and you can make a decision once you have received the outcome of your assessment. You are also welcome to have someone else – perhaps a friend, family member or your carer – attend your assessment with you for extra support.

*Note: An Aged Care Assessment Team is referred to as an Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) in Victoria. Where the information on this web page refers to an ACAT, it intends the Victorian term ACAS to be interchangeable.

When do I need an ACAT assessment?

You will need an ACAT assessment if you want to:

You won't need an ACAT assessment for aged care services that are not subsidised by the government. Examples might be services offered by volunteer groups and charitable organisations.

You also won't need an ACAT assessment to receive aged care services through some government-funded programs such as Home and Community CareDay Therapy Centres and the National Respite for Carers Program. The organisations that deliver these services will have their own, less formal, assessment procedures.

What happens at an ACAT assessment?

Your doctor or nurse may refer you to an ACAT for an assessment if they think you need some extra help. Or, you may like to simply find your local ACAT and contact them to arrange your own assessment.

If you would like any further information or help locating an ACAT, call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

A member of your local ACAT – usually a doctor, nurse, social worker or other health care professional – will make a time to come to your home (or the hospital, if you're currently in hospital) and talk to you about how well you're managing in your day-to-day life. You may like to ask a family member, friend or carer to be with you during the assessment for extra support.

The following steps briefly outline what you can expect to happen at an ACAT assessment.

The ACAT member/s:

  • will ask your permission to conduct the assessment
  • may ask your permission to talk to your doctor to discuss your medical history before they meet with you. But only if you agree, and your consent will be recorded by the ACAT
  • will ask you if you wish to apply for approval to receive certain aged care services. They will explain these service options to you, and if you do want to apply, they will ask you to sign an application form or the Aged Care Client Record
  • will ask you questions about your day-to-day living activities and if you need help with all or some of them. They'll also want to talk about your general state of health and specific health conditions. This will help them work out how much and what type of help you need
  • will then talk to you about whether they think you need more support so you can keep living in your own home, or if they think you might be better supported in an aged care home
  • will give you information about all of the services that may be available in your local area. You may also like to search for organisations or aged care homes yourself.

After the assessment

Once you have had the ACAT assessment, you will receive a letter to let you know if you have been approved as eligible for government services. Your letter will tell you what type of services you're eligible for and approved to receive, as well as the reasons why. You will also receive a copy of your completed Aged Care Client Record.
You should keep a copy of your completed record because you will need to show this record to organisations to confirm that you are eligible to receive government-subsidised aged care services.

If you are not happy with your assessment outcome, you will also be given written instructions on how to appeal the ACAT decision.

How long is an ACAT approval valid for?

How long an ACAT approval is valid for depends on your particular situation. 

Your ACAT will remain valid unless:

  • it has a time restriction applied by the ACAT
  • you are approved for low-level residential care and do not receive care within 12 months beginning the day after the approval was given
  • you are approved for the Transition Care Program, in which case the outcome is valid for four weeks beginning the day after the approval was given.

You might also need another assessment if your personal circumstances or your care needs change.