Aged Care – the process

By Mark Teale
14 July 2021
(Realise Your Dream)


As we age the prospect of residential aged care starts to become more of an issue – one that we all hope to avoid. I am sure for those of us who have parents in residential aged care, regardless of how good the care is, the thought of entering a nursing home ourselves is not something we want to think about in a great deal of detail.

So, when the issue becomes a reality, what are the first steps that need to be taken to ensure that I – or in this example my widowed mum – can effectively enter a residential aged care facility without too many dramas.

1. Complete an ACAT assessment

You can’t drive mum to the closest nursing home and ask if they have a room available for her. Your mum needs to have an ACAT assessment to say that she is eligible from a health perspective to enter residential aged care.

What is an ACAT assessment?
ACAT stands for Aged Care Assessment Team. This is a team of medically qualified people who can assess your mum’s health and decide on a suitable plan to ensure your mum is cared for and receives the necessary medical care.

How do I find my local Aged Care Assessment Team?
A very good government website will provide you with direction on applying for an assessment. After the assessment is completed, a letter will be forwarded to you or your mum in this example, outlining the level of care that she is entitled to receive.

It is important that the letter provides the necessary residential aged care approval to ensure mum can enter a residential aged care facility.

You now have the correct ACAT Assessment letter and mum can now consider entering a nursing home.

2. Figure out how much you need to pay

There are forms that need to be completed and there are a couple of different forms which are relevant to a person’s circumstances.

In mums’ case, as she is a widow and in receipt of an age pension who owns her home, she will need to complete an SA 485 which will ask questions concerning her home, its value and whether she is planning to rent the home or sell the property. The reason why it is not necessarily asking her about her other assets and income is because Centrelink already have these details.

If mum was not in receipt of an age pension, she would need to complete a far more detailed and comprehensive SA 457 form as Centrelink does not have any income or asset details because she is not in receipt of an age pension.

If you are confident in using the internet, there is also a dynamic SA486 form that you can complete online which changes the questions on an ongoing basis depending on the answers you have provided to the previous question.

These forms are all available on, which provide a good explanation of who should be completing what form.

These forms can be completed before mum needs to enter the home so that mum and you in this example are aware of the fees, but do not panic if you are not able to do so as they certainly can be completed after mum has entered the aged care facility.

A few weeks after completing and lodging the forms, mum will receive a letter from Services Australia outlining her fees and whether she needs to pay a Refundable Accommodation Deposit

3. You can now relax!

Not quite, after mum enters the aged care facility her fees are reviewed on a quarterly basis in January, March, July, and September. The aged care facility will receive notification of the review and any possible change in the fees, with necessary adjustments being made for the fees which have been paid in the last three months.

So, even though mum is now safely residing in the aged care facility you still need to be diligent to ensure that mum’s fees are correct, and her financial circumstances are reviewed and kept up on date on a regular basis.

I understand that you now may have questions as to what fees mum may have to pay, if this is the case then you may find the following link to a previous RYD blog helpful – Residential Aged Care 101 – the basics.

If you still are unsure of the process and have questions speak to an expert who can fully explain and the issues you and your mum may face when it does come time for her to enter residential aged care.





Peter Kelly

PK believes people have the right to accurate, affordable and unbiased information that addresses all aspects of their preferred retirement lifestyle, thereby giving them the opportunity to make informed decisions that will empower them to live out their lives with dignity, certainty and security.


Mark Teale

Tealey’s ambition is to change how people think about their retirement, he wants people to dream, plan and realise retirement is not defined by a magical age prescribed by the legislation.

General Advice Warning
The information contained in this article is of a generally nature and does not take into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should therefore consider the appropriateness of the advice for your situation before acting on it. You should obtain and consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and seek the assistance of an authorised financial adviser before making any decisions regarding any products or strategies mentioned in this publication.



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