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Residential care

5-minute read

What is residential care?

An aged care home is for older people who can no longer live at home. This might be because you need help with everyday tasks or health care.

Aged care homes are also called:

  • residential aged care facilities (RACFs)
  • nursing homes

An aged care home gives you the services you need to have a good quality of life.

The government funds aged care homes across Australia. These homes supply services to those who need it.

Each aged care home is different. They provide different levels of care. Some provide just basic accommodation while others provide continuous nursing care. It's important to choose the right one for you.

Why might I need residential care?

You might consider an aged care home because:

  • you may live on your own and want some company
  • you might not be able to get out easily
  • you may need help due to an illness or disability
  • you may no longer be able to care for yourself safely at home
  • you might need palliative (end-of-life) care

Can I use residential care even though I’m younger than 65 years?

Australia’s aged care homes are for older people. They are not meant for people younger than 65 years.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides services to Australians who have a permanent or significant disability.

You may be eligible for the NDIS, if you are:

  • under 65 years
  • live with a permanent disability
  • need support

How can I access residential care?

To find out if you are eligible for subsidised aged care, there is a 2-part assessment process.

  1. an eligibility check which you can do online or over the phone
  2. an in-person assessment

To check your eligibility, you can:

  • call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422
  • visit the My Aged Care website

After your eligibility check, you may have an assessment. This is to better understand your needs.

The assessor will come to your house. The assessor will call you to arrange a time to visit.

There are 2 types of assessment:

  1. A home support assessment with a Regional Assessment Service — for low level support
  2. A comprehensive assessment with an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT)

How much will it cost?

Each aged care home sets their own prices. How much you must pay depends on:

  • the aged care home
  • an assessment of your income and assets

There are 3 types of costs associated with all aged care homes. These fees are:

  1. accommodation costs
  2. a basic daily care fee
  3. a means-tested care fee

The accommodation cost is the cost for your room. It depends on your income and assets. The Government may contribute to this.

The basic daily care fee is money you pay to help cover expenses such as:

  • meals
  • laundry
  • heating and cooling
  • nursing
  • personal care

The means-tested care fee is an extra contribution you pay based on an assessment of your income and assets.

You can use the fee estimator to get an idea of the costs you may have to pay.

Or you can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. The phone line is open:

  • Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm
  • Saturday 10am - 2pm

Caring for someone else

Moving into an aged care home is often a challenging time.

It is an emotional decision for:

  • the person moving
  • their family
  • their friends
  • their carers

It might be time to consider an aged care home when your loved one has:

  • problems getting around
  • incontinence (wets or soils themselves)
  • challenging behaviours like wandering
  • problems communicating
  • problems thinking, planning, and remembering

Even if moving to an aged care home is the best choice, you may feel unsettled.

There are many ways you can help care for your relative or friend living in an aged care home. The My Aged Care website has a fact sheet about caring for someone in an aged care home.

Resources and support

For further information:

  • call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422
  • go to the My Aged Care website

You can also call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222. A registered nurse is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2022

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