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Adminstrator having a discussion with a resident

Comprehensive assessment with an ACAT

Comprehensive assessments are provided by a local assessor from an Aged Care Assessment Team or ACAT. If you have been referred for a comprehensive assessment, a member of an ACAT will contact you. They will arrange a time to visit you at home and talk to you about your current situation.

Let the assessor know if you have any communication difficulties so they can arrange any special assistance you need for your assessment.

The assessor, usually a nurse, social worker or other health care professional, will ask you a few questions to ensure your and their safety when they visit.

You need a comprehensive assessment by an ACAT to work out if you are eligible for:

Preparing for an assessment

It’s useful to have the following ready for when the assessment takes place:

  • your Medicare number
  • a copy of any referrals from your doctor
  • any information provided to you that you may want to discuss with the assessor
  • your GP or other health professional contact details
  • information on any current support you receive.

You can ask a family member, carer or friend to be with you during the assessment.

Read more about your rights during an assessment.

What happens during a comprehensive assessment?

When the assessor arrives at your home, they will ask if you agree to have the assessment. The assessor will have a copy of your client record. This includes the information you gave to the My Aged Care contact centre.

They may also ask for your permission to talk to people who support you, such as a family member or carer. For assessment for some services such as residential care, home care and flexible care the assessor will ask you to complete an Application for Care form.

The assessor will ask questions about:

  • what support you already have and if that will continue
  • your health and lifestyle and any health concerns
  • how you are going with completing daily tasks and activities around the home
  • if you have problems with your memory
  • any issues relating to home and personal safety
  • family and community engagement
  • speaking to your GP or other health professionals.

The assessor can also:

  • consider you for other types of services that meet your needs
  • give you information about service providers that may offer the care you need in your area
  • discuss if you might need more support so you can live in your own home, or other options such as an aged care home.

The assessor may also talk to you about the possible costs of your services and where you can find further information about this.

You can read more about costs in help at home: costs explained (look for ‘Home Care Packages Program’) or aged care homes: costs explained.

Questions to ask the assessor

You may like to ask the assessor about:

  • what services are available to help you reach your goals
  • what support there is for your carer
  • service providers that speak your language or represent your religious or cultural beliefs
  • how you can contact the assessor if you have any questions after the assessment.

Developing a support plan

The assessor will help you develop a support plan that records what you discussed and agreed during the assessment such as:

  • your strengths
  • your difficulties
  • your goals
  • what you would like to achieve
  • what preferences you have for your services.

Your support plan will set out the care and services that will best help you and if the services are ongoing or short term. In some cases where you have an injury or need support to get better, you can receive short term services to help you recover.

This support may be available from service providers, or may be support that’s already available to access in your community. It may also be things you can do yourself to meet your goals.

Concerns about the assessment process

All ACATs (or ACAS in Victoria) have procedures in place to work through your concerns.

If you have concerns about your assessment, you should talk to your ACAT assessor or manager in the first instance to see if they can help.

If you do not know the ACAT organisation’s details, the My Aged Care contact centre can give you this information.

ACATs are employed by state and territory governments.

If you cannot first resolve the issue with your ACAT, ask them to give you the contact details of your state or territory government department manager.

Read more about making a complaint.

Receive the outcome of your assessment

After your assessment, the assessor will make a formal decision about your care needs, your eligibility to receive care and the level of care that meets your needs.

If you are assessed as eligible for services, your approval for services will be set out in an approval letter from the ACAT.

In some areas there may be a waiting period between the assessment and the approval, and the time you start receiving services for either home care or a place in an aged care home.

If you are found not eligible for a home care package, residential care or other services you need, the letter from the ACAT will tell you why you are not eligible.

If you are found not eligible there may still be services you can access and the letter will tell you who to contact.

If your needs change at any time you can ask for a new assessment by contacting My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

If you don’t receive a letter of approval or non-approval from the ACAT explaining your assessment decision, you will need to contact the ACAT and ask for a copy.

Concerns about the outcome of your comprehensive (ACAT) assessment

If you do not agree with the assessment decisions in your letter from the ACAT or you want to discuss any issues about the decision, contact your ACAT. If you still have concerns, the letter will include information on how you can ask for a review of the decision. There is no charge for this.

To request a review of an assessment decision you can write to the Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Health, outlining why you think the decision should be changed:

The Secretary
Department of Health
Attn: Aged Care Assessment Program Reconsiderations
GPO Box 9848

You must write to the Secretary within 28 days of receiving your approval letter. Usually there will be a decision on your request within 90 days.

If you don’t agree with the Secretary’s review, you can go to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, but there will be a charge. Find out more on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal website.

Supports to help you

You can have someone with you during an assessment or to help you raise your concerns. This can be a family member or trusted friend.

The Older Persons Advocacy Network can also help raise your concerns or give information about your rights.

Advocates are available to all Australians seeking or receiving aged care services. This is a free service. Call the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600 (freecall) or visit the Older Persons Advocacy Network website.

Read more about advocacy services to help you.



While you wait for the outcome of your assessment, use the service finders to find service providers in your area.

If you don’t know which service finder to use, you can call My Aged Care to check on 1800 200 422.

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Last reviewed: 18 December, 2017.