Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Person caring for someone.

Person caring for someone.
beginning of content

Residential care

3-minute read

What is residential care?

Residential care refers to the care and services you receive when you are living in a care facility, including aged care homes. Residential care is provided by Australian Government-approved organisations to give you the care you need.

Why might I need residential care?

You might consider residential care because:

  • you might not be able to get out and about easily
  • you may live on your own and want some extra company
  • you may need help due to illness or disability
  • you might need palliative (end-of-life) care

You might still live in your own home with help from a carer, but need a short-term residential care stay while your carer has a break. This is called residential respite care and it can be on a planned or emergency basis.

How can I access residential care?

You will need an assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT, or ACAS in Victoria) to access government-subsidised residential care. These assessments are free. Your doctor can advise you how to contact your local ACAT. Alternatively, visit the My Aged Care website, or call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

How much will it cost?

The Australian Government pays the majority of aged care costs in Australia, but you will probably be asked to contribute towards the cost of your residential care if you can afford it.

Aged care homes may charge a number of fees, such as:

  • a contribution to expenses such as meals, laundry, heating and cooling, nursing and personal care - this is known as a basic daily care fee
  • an extra contribution based on an assessment of your income and assets - this is known as a means-tested care fee
  • an accommodation payment - the Government may contribute to this, depending on your income and assets
  • fees for extra services which you request

There are rules in place to make sure everyone receives the care they need.

To find out what you may need to pay for your residential care, or to request an Assets and Income Assessment form and information booklet, go to the My Aged Care website or call 1800 200 422.

Caring for someone else

If you are caring for someone and decide that they need some form of residential care, you will face many issues that may be unsettling. It's never an easy decision, but support is available.

Remember, there are still many ways to help care for relatives or friends living in residential care. The My Aged Care website has a fact sheet about caring for someone in an aged care home.

And remember, respite care may be available in the short term.

For further information contact the Carer Advisory Service on 1800 242 636, call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422, or go to the My Aged Care website.

Last reviewed: January 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Moving into residential care | enableme - stroke recovery and support

Residential aged care may be recommended after a stroke. Find resources and information to assist your move into care

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

In residential care or hospital Managing incontinence Continence Foundation of Australia

Continence Foundation of Australia

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Short Stays in Aged Care Homes (Residential Respite) - Carers ACT

Read more on Carers ACT website

Caring for a resident with dementia

Residents with dementia may not be able to tell people if they have pain or other problems. Residential aged care staff use assessment tools and guidelines, as well as their experience and knowledge of each person, to help them know when a resident is in pain, or if their pain is getting worse. These tools help residential aged care staff to give residents the right care at the right time. Families can talk to residential aged care staff about the kind of assessment tools they use to help plan t

Read more on CareSearch website

Dementia Australia | Residential care

Deciding on residential care Choosing a residential facility What is good care?

Read more on Dementia Australia website

Guiding principles for medication management in residential aged care facilities - A guide for residents and carers

The Guiding Principles for Medication Management in Residential Aged Care Facilities promote the safe, quality use of medicines and medication management in your aged care home. The Guiding Principles are published by the Australian Government and are based on evidence and advice from experts, providers and users of medicines in health and aged care services.

Read more on Department of Health website

Dementia Australia | Deciding on residential care

Where to begin Types of residential facilities Getting assessed for residential care Planning for the move Taking care of yourself Contact us

Read more on Dementia Australia website

Communicating with RAC staff

Good palliative care aims to meet the needs of the individual at the end-of-life. A palliative approach in residential aged care helps with physical, emotional and spiritual comfort. It needs good communication between the resident, family and the staff

Read more on CareSearch website

Recognising Residents' Needs

Quality palliative care recognises the right of all people to have control over their lives. The Residential Aged Care Hub provides information on supporting residents and families to actively participate in decision making about their care and the way they live

Read more on CareSearch website

For Residents and Families

Whether you have been living in residential aged care for some time or you have recently arrived, as your care needs change you will need information. When the care recommended is palliative care, you may want to find out what this means and how it will be managed in your facility.

Read more on CareSearch website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo