Once you have received a letter to say that you are approved for entry into an aged care home, follow this pathway to access care in an aged care home and manage your services:
- Help understanding the agreements
- Rights and responsibilities
- Resident Agreement
- Accommodation Agreement
- Help negotiating your care and accommodation costs
- Care and services you may be charged for
- How are my care needs classified?
- Fees for extra and additional services
After accepting a place and before moving in, your aged care home will offer you a Resident Agreement.
This is a legal agreement between you and your aged care home. It will set out the care and services available, what fees you will have to pay and your rights and responsibilities.
The home will also offer you an Accommodation Agreement covering your accommodation costs and how they can be paid. This may be part of your Resident Agreement and given to you as one document. The provider has 28 days to enter into an Accommodation Agreement with you after you enter care.
These are both legal agreements between you and your aged care home and sometimes they may be presented to you in a single document.
Help understanding the agreements
Since the Resident Agreement and Accommodation Agreement are legally binding documents, it's important that you understand everything in the documents before you sign them. If you have any questions, you should ask your new aged care home. It is their responsibility to make sure the agreements offered to you are clear.
The proposed agreements may not include all the things that you think are important, so it is a good idea to check before you sign.
You can ask your family, friends, carer, financial advisor or a legal professional to help you understand the terms of your agreements. You may also like to get help from an advocate. Advocacy services can give you information about your rights and responsibilities when accessing aged care services. Advocacy services are free, confidential and independent. Call the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600 (freecall).
Rights and responsibilities
As well as the Resident Agreement, your rights and responsibilities and those of the aged care home are outlined in the Charter of Care Recipients' Rights and Responsibilities - Residential Care.
The Charter will be displayed in your aged care home, or you can ask your home for a copy when they offer you your Resident Agreement. Read more about quality of care and consumer rights.
What does the Resident Agreement cover?
Your Resident Agreement should include the following:
- the name of your aged care home
- the care and services that the home will provide to you
- the policies and practices used to set your fees and accommodation payments
- the daily fee you'll be asked to pay (this may include an amount if known)
- any additional services you've agreed to receive, and their costs
- your rights and responsibilities as a resident in your new aged care home
- the aged care home's responsibilities to you as a resident
- how the aged care home will deal with any complaints you, your carer, family or friends may make
- any circumstances where you might be asked to leave and how the aged care home will help you find somewhere else to live
- any other matters agreed between you and the aged care home's manager.
If you have not done so before, you can also ask for extra information such as the home’s meal and visitor policy, and other details about living in the home.
Signing the Resident Agreement
The aged care home must offer you a Resident Agreement however, there is no time limit or a requirement for you to sign the Resident Agreement. It is in your best interest to agree to the arrangement that governs your care as soon as you can, as it covers your rights and responsibilities.
If you understand your Agreement but are physically unable to sign it, you can ask someone with the legal authority to sign on your behalf, such as someone who holds power of attorney for you.
Once you have signed a Resident Agreement, your provider must continue to deliver care and services in the aged care home for as long as you need them. This is called 'security of tenure' and your Resident Agreement should include detailed information about this.
If you chose not to sign a Resident Agreement, the aged care home still needs to talk to you about the type of care and services you need and you will still need to pay your daily fees and any relevant accommodation payments when you move in.
It is important that the aged care home records the reasons for you not having signed an agreement and the basis of the care that you are getting.
Resident Agreements for respite care
If you're planning a short stay in an aged care home (residential respite), you'll need a Resident Agreement for that too. Like the agreement for longer term care, the Resident Agreement should include your rights and responsibilities, and the rights and responsibilities of the aged care home.
It should also include:
- the dates when you'll be staying
- details of the respite care booking fee (which is a prepaid basic daily fee).
Read more about residential respite care.
Changing the terms of your Resident Agreement
Changes can only be made to your Agreement if both you and your aged care home agree. If you wish to end your Agreement, you’ll have to give the home notice of your intention to do so, preferably in writing.
Withdrawing from or cancelling the Resident Agreement
If you change your mind and want to withdraw from the Resident Agreement within 14 days of signing, you need to let your aged care home know in writing straight away. You will still need to pay your fees for care and accommodation payments for the 14 days you were in care. If you’ve made any other payments to your aged care home during that time, you are entitled to a refund.
Provider ending your Resident Agreement (security of tenure and ageing in place)
'Security of tenure' means your aged care home must provide you with a safe and secure environment and the agreed levels of care for as long as you need. It also means that your aged care home cannot ask you to leave at any time unless:
- they are closing
- they can no longer provide the accommodation and care suitable for you
- you no longer need the care they provide
- you haven't paid an agreed fee within 42 days after the due date for reasons within your control
- you intentionally cause serious damage to the facility or serious injury to an employee or another resident, or
- you are away for more than 7 days in a row other than for a permitted reason, such as being on leave.
If you are asked to leave for one of the reasons above, your aged care home must give you 14 days' notice in writing. Most importantly, your home cannot ask you to leave until affordable, alternative accommodation that better meets your needs is found for you.
If you have any concerns about being asked to leave, talk to the manager at your aged care home in the first instance.
Your agreement should also identify how it will continue to support you as your needs change, known as 'ageing in place'.
What does the Accommodation Agreement cover?
If the service provider has asked you to pay some or all of the cost of your accommodation, you’ll need to make an Accommodation Agreement with the home. The aged care home will need to offer you this agreement before you enter care. This agreement can be included as part of your Resident Agreement or it may be a separate agreement.
Your Accommodation Agreement must include:
- the accommodation price that you have agreed to pay the home
- details on the three payment options you can choose from to pay the accommodation price:
- the lump-sum amount
- the rental-type payment amount
- combined payment amounts, such as 50% payment by lump-sum and 50% rental-type payment amount
- other conditions of your accommodation payment and, if applicable, the refund amount of your lump sum balance if you leave or die
- any extra service fees for higher standard accommodation, meals and non-care services, if you are entering an extra service status place
- any additional service fees for other optional care or services you have agreed to
- the specific accommodation you will be provided with
- any services that your accommodation payment entitles you to receive
- conditions for moving rooms.
See also help negotiating your care fees below.
Signing the Accommodation Agreement
You have 28 days after moving into your aged care home to decide how you want to pay your accommodation costs and enter into an Accommodation Agreement. You must pay your accommodation costs by the rental-style payment method until you decide on how you want to pay for your accommodation. If you do not enter into an Accommodation Agreement within this time frame, you will still be required to pay for your accommodation costs by the rental-style payment method.
You can ask someone else to negotiate your accommodation costs with the aged care provider on your behalf. This is something you may wish to consider when preparing to move.
In some cases your Accommodation Agreement may be combined with your Resident Agreement. Even though there is no time limit to sign a Resident Agreement, if it includes your Accommodation Agreement, you still have 28 days to agree to the entire Resident Agreement. You should talk to your aged care home if you have any concerns.
Help negotiating your care and accommodation costs
You can ask someone to negotiate with the aged care provider about your care fees on your behalf. You or the person helping you will also need to organise things like how your fees and accommodation payments will be paid. You may also include this nominated person in your Resident Agreement.
You may also appoint someone to act on your behalf about fees and accommodation payments with the Department of Human Services. To do this you need to complete an Appointment of a Nominee form, which you can print off or get from your aged care home. This person will receive copies of the letters about your fees and accommodation payments. If your nominated person does not hold power of attorney, both you and your nominee will receive letters from the Department of Human Services.
Care and services you may be charged for
Your home must provide you with care and services such as accommodation, furnishings, meals, personal assistance and help in organising health practitioner services if you need them.
Depending on your care needs, the cost of some complex care and services may be funded by the Australian Government and/or covered by the fees you pay towards your care and accommodation or you may have to pay extra for them (above the basic daily fee, means-tested care fee and accommodation costs).
How your care needs are classified will determine if you can be charged extra for complex care and services. If you have lower care needs you may need to pay extra (above the basic daily fee, means-tested care fee and accommodation costs) for some services, such as but not limited to:
- equipment to assist moving and mobilising
- goods to assist with toileting and incontinence management
- specialised nursing services
- some bedding materials such as bed rails.
How are my care needs classified?
When you enter an aged care home, the staff at the home will discuss with you what care you need.
They will also use a tool called the Aged Care Funding Instrument to classify your care needs for Australian Government funding purposes. This will usually happen about four weeks after you enter a home and you may be reviewed in the future as your care needs change.
Through the Aged Care Funding Instrument, a classification will be made of your care needs as nil, low, medium or high in the following categories:
- activities of daily living
- complex health care.
If you have a high rating in any category, or a medium rating in two or more categories, your aged care home cannot ask you to pay for complex care and services. This means you do not have to pay additional fees for nursing care, allied health services, incontinence aids, non-customised mobility goods and specialised bedding materials.
Your aged care home also cannot ask you to pay additional fees for complex care and services in the period before your care needs have been classified for the first time.
Fees for extra and additional services
Your aged care home may also offer optional additional care and services you can purchase such as:
- transport to medical appointments and social activities
- services or products outside of the chosen style or brand of the aged care home.
These are care or services offered at a higher standard or in addition to those that the home must provide to you legally, based on how your care needs are classified.
Any fees for additional services must provide a direct benefit to you and be agreed between you and your aged care home before they are delivered. These should be outlined in your resident agreement and in your itemised account.
If you have an extra service place, you can be asked to pay an extra service fee. The higher standard of accommodation and services that are delivered need to be outlined in your extra service agreement, which can be part of your resident agreement.
Read more information about fees for extra and additional services for aged care homes.