5. Manage your care and services in an aged care home

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:

Find out more information about:

Once you have moved into your aged care home, there will be new routines and social activities, new environments and new people to get to know.

You will still decide what you want to do each day and have control over your own personal and financial matters and possessions. Your family and friends will be able to visit and, as long as your health allows, you’ll be able to go on holidays, visit friends and come and go as you wish. You won’t lose the right to vote, or any other rights you enjoy as a citizen. You will be expected to respect the rights and needs of other people in the home, as they will be expected to respect yours.

Health and personal care

Planning your care

After you move into an aged care home, staff at the home should sit down with you, and your family or friends if you like, to discuss your care needs and develop your care plan. The plan outlines your care needs and instructions on how to make sure these are met.

If you already have a care plan that’s been developed by a community nurse, allied health professional or your doctor, you can bring that with you.

Visiting your doctor, dentist or specialist

You can keep your own doctor, dentist or specialist. Your aged care home must help you make appointments and access doctors or specialists of your choice if needed. You do not have to pay the home for arranging these appointments, however, you will generally need to pay the consultation fee. You may be able to claim a rebate from Medicare or through your private health insurer if you have one.

Your aged care home can also help you arrange transport to and from your medical appointments. You may have to pay for the transport and for a staff member to accompany you, if the appointment is not held at the aged care home and your family, friends, carer or a volunteer cannot come with you. Otherwise, the aged care home may be able to arrange for your doctor or dentist to visit you at the home.

If your doctor or dentist is unable to visit you, your home should help you choose another health professional. Staff must also help you arrange any other health care services you need, such as physiotherapy, dental treatment or podiatry (foot care).

Members of the veteran community will continue to be able to access hospital, specialist, medical and transport arrangements under their treatment cards. In some circumstances, they may also be able to access allied health services and aids and equipment under the Rehabilitations Appliances Program (RAP). Read more on the DVA website.

Private health insurance

If you have private health insurance, some or all of the costs of being a private patient in either a public or private hospital will be covered, but they won't cover fees and charges for your aged care home. Your private health insurance may cover you for a variety of other items not covered by Medicare, such as podiatry (foot care).

Health treatment preferences

If you have special preferences about your health, particularly about treatment during a serious illness, it's important that those who might need to look after you or your affairs, including your aged care home, know about these in advance. This way you can still have the treatment you want if you can no longer take part in decisions about your health.

One way to do this is to outline what health care you want in a document known as an Advance Care Directive. This document should include any preferences you have about your medical treatment. If you like, you can give this information to your aged care home when you move in.

What will the food be like?

Your aged care home should give you healthy, well-balanced meals with a variety of foods. They should also consider your health care needs and your dietary customs or religious beliefs, so let them know what you like or don't like, and what you can't have. If you like, you can ask a family member or friend to tell them.

Feedback or concerns about your care and services

If you are living in an aged care home, the services you receive will be outlined in the Resident Agreement that you make with the home when you first move in. Your care plan outlines your care needs and any instructions on how to make sure these are met.

The home should also display a copy of the Charter of Care Recipients' Rights and Responsibilities (available in 18 languages), which outlines your rights and responsibilities and those of the aged care home to help make sure you receive the care and services you need.

Aged care homes must meet quality standards, called accreditation standards. If it is found that your aged care home is not meeting its responsibilities, compliance action can be taken. Read more about accreditation and compliance or find out if a home has a current sanction or notice of non-compliance.

If you are concerned about the care or service you are receiving, you have the right to raise your concern or complaint without it affecting your care and services. You are encouraged to raise the issue with your aged care home in the first instance as it may be something that can be easily resolved.

Advocacy

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. They can also let you know if you should raise your concerns to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.

Complaints

Your aged care home can tell you how to make a complaint through their internal complaints handling process. If the complaint can't be resolved by the service provider, or you don't feel comfortable raising your concern with them, you can raise your concern with the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.

Read more about how to make a complaint about your care and services, either with your service provider or through the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.

Social activities

Your aged care home will organise social and other activities for you to be involved in. Activities might be organised between the residents, or involve people from the community. Your aged care home should also help you attend social activities outside the home. The Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) can provide opportunities for social contact for people who don't have regular contact with family or friends. If you are a veteran or war widow/er, you may be able to invite representatives from ex-service organisations (ESOs) to visit you.

Read more about social activities in an aged care home.

Managing your money and affairs

It is your decision who manages your money. All aged care homes are required to have a staff member who can help you make any financial arrangements you need.

Some homes also offer services such as direct debit so you can pay your bills automatically, either from your bank account or by credit card. In some cases, you might be able to have your pension directed to the aged care home so that your fees and other costs, such as chemist bills, can be deducted.

It's important to have a will so your estate and any other affairs are taken care of the way you want. You can give your aged care home the name of the executor of your will so that the information will be available if needed. This may be to finalise accounts or repay any monies owing to you. You might also have preferences about your funeral that are important to you and your family.

If you find that you are having difficulty paying your aged care costs for reasons beyond your control, financial hardship assistance is available to help you get the care you need.

Help managing your affairs

If you need help managing your affairs, you can arrange for someone you trust to look after them for you through a power of attorney. This is a legal document where you appoint someone else to act on your behalf in money or property matters.

You can also choose to give someone enduring power of attorney. This means that if at some stage you're no longer able to look after your affairs, someone you trust will be able to look after them for you and try to make sure your wishes are met. This person may also be able to make decisions on your health care. You can specify limits to their powers.

You can ask your solicitor about giving someone power of attorney or enduring power of attorney. Alternatively, someone from a community legal centre, a public trustee or private trustee company, or your local magistrate's court, should be able to help.

Taking time away

Can I go on holiday?

If you want to go on a holiday or visit family and friends you can leave your aged care home for up to 52 nights in a financial year. Any nights you stay away count as 'social leave'. During this time the Australian Government will continue to pay the appropriate subsidies to your aged care home on your behalf, and you'll still have to pay your usual fees and accommodation payments.

If, however, you stay away for more than 52 nights in a financial year, the Australian Government will stop paying subsidies for that financial year and your aged care home might ask you to make up the amount. The 52-day allocation cannot be increased.

What if I need to go to hospital?

If you need to go to hospital, the time away won’t count towards your social leave, but you’ll still have to pay your usual fees and payments. The Australian Government will continue to pay appropriate subsidies to your aged care home while you are in hospital.

Changing rooms

If you are satisfied with your aged care home but want to change rooms, you can ask the manager of your home. They must consider your request, even if it isn’t possible to offer you another room straight away.

The manager will consider the overall operation of the home as well as the terms of your Resident Agreement and Accommodation Agreement, and let you know if there is another room that might be suitable for you.

You will need to negotiate a new Accommodation Agreement and accommodation price if you change rooms. You may also be asked to pay additional service fees associated with the new room. For example, if you choose to move from a shared room to a single room.

Can the home make me change rooms?

There are circumstances where you could be moved to another room without asking for the change, such as:

  • if it is necessary for genuine medical reasons
  • if your room in the home changes to an 'extra service room' and you choose not to pay the additional costs. Read about the extra and additional fees for aged care homes
  • if there are repairs or improvements being made to the aged care home
  • if you agree to a room price that an income and assets assessment shows you are not eligible to pay
  • if the home asks you to move beds or rooms and you agree, after you've been consulted without being pressured.

If you have any concerns about being asked to change rooms or how your move is being handled, talk to the manager at your aged care home in the first instance.

Moving homes

You can move to another home as long as you have been offered a place there. This might happen if you have accepted a place in a home that wasn't your first choice, but kept an application open for a home you preferred. Or since living in your current aged care home, you may have found a home that is more to your liking and applied for a place there.

Talk to your aged care home about what steps you will need to take.

What about my accommodation costs?

If you entered an aged care home on or after 1 July 2014 and then move to another home, any accommodation payment you made as a lump sum payment will be refunded. This means you will need to agree to a new room price with your new aged care home.

If you entered a home before 1 July 2014 you may have been asked to pay an accommodation bond. If you move from one aged care home to another with a break of no more than 28 days (unless on approved leave), you cannot be asked to pay an accommodation bond greater than the amount to be returned to you by your first home. You can also chose to opt into the post-1 July 2014 fee arrangements.

Read more about accommodation costs.

Leaving your aged care home

How long can I stay?

Once you are permanently living in an aged care home, your place is secure and you can stay there for as long as the home is able to care for you. However, there may be times when you choose to leave an aged care home, or you may be asked to leave.

For example, perhaps you need some more nursing support and your current home cannot provide the services you require.

If you are staying in the aged care home on a short-term basis, the length of time you can stay will have been agreed with the aged care home and set out in your Resident Agreement.

Can the home ask me to leave?

An aged care home may ask you to leave if:

  • they are closing
  • they can't provide the type of accommodation and care you need
  • your needs have changed since you first moved in
  • you no longer need the care they provide
  • you haven't paid your fees within 42 days after they fall due, for reasons within your control.

You might also be asked to leave if you intentionally cause:

  • serious damage to the aged care home
  • serious injury to another person, including employees.

If you do have to move, you must be given 14 days' notice in writing, and the aged care home should be able to help you find affordable alternative accommodation that better meets your needs.

This information should be outlined under 'security of tenure' in your Resident Agreement.

If you have any concerns about being asked to leave, talk to the manager at your aged care home in the first instance.

Last reviewed: 29 January, 2018.