Aged care - a step-by-step guide

Searching for an appropriate aged care residence (commonly referred to as a nursing home) can be both difficult and confusing.
Often, an event occurs and there is a rush to secure an available place.

Choosing the right
aged care residence

This guide will assist you through this process, whether you are planning for your future or requiring immediate assistance. If you need additional help, please call us on 1300 899 222 and we will answer your questions, provide additional information and assist you to make an informed decision. 

Step 1: Assessing your eligibility for government support

To find out if you are eligible for Australian Government support for residential aged care, you will need to be assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), or Aged Care Assessment Services (ACAS) as it is known in Victoria.

An ACAT/ACAS assessment is a free assessment funded by the Australian Government. It is completed by a team of health professionals who provide information, advice and assistance to older people who are having difficulty living at home.

The team will visit you at home or in hospital to assess your lifestyle and healthcare needs, and enabling them to determine the most appropriate care option for you. This assessment determines your eligibility for entry into residential aged care or for a community care package to assist you to continue living at home.

Residential aged care options vary and the ACAT/ACAS assessment will provide a recommendation on the level of care required. Low-level care generally involves the provision of accommodation and personal care, which includes assistance with dressing and showering, as well as occasional nursing care.

High-level care involves the provision of accommodation and care for people who are frail and require continuous nursing care. Respite care may also be provided within an aged care residence.

If you have been approved for high-level residential care, or low or high-level respite care, you will not need to be assessed again, unless your care needs change significantly. For those assessed as requiring low-level residential care, this assessment is valid for 12 months from the date of the assessment.

Your local GP, health centre or hospital can arrange for a referral to the assessment team nearest to you. Alternatively, if you would like to contact them directly, you can search for your local ACAT/ACAS team on the Department of Health and Ageing website.

Step 2: Finding an aged care residence

Once you have been assessed by ACAT/ACAS as being eligible for residential aged care, you may choose to start looking for a suitable residence. When looking at aged care residences, it is important to understand what type of care you require, the services you are seeking and your preferred location.

McKenzie has aged care residences across Melbourne, South East Queensland, the Tweed Valley and Sunshine Coast.

We have a range of accommodation alternatives designed to cater for the varying levels of assistance required by each individual entering one of our residences. High and low-level care, as well as extra services, dementia-specific care and respite care, are available to ensure that residents’ nursing and personal care needs are met. These broad service offerings also enable 'ageing in place', so even if your needs change, you can still remain with us.

It is important to find the most appropriate residence for you or your loved one and we invite you to call us on 1300 899 222  to find out more about the services, lifestyle offerings and care options available at our purpose-built residences. Our Client Relations staff are there to assist you.

Step 3: Working out
the cost

The Australian Government assists with the cost of your residential aged care, through the provision of funding to aged care residences. However, the Government also expects those who can afford it to contribute to the cost.

There are four main payment options associated with residential aged care in Australia:

1. Basic Daily Fee (Government Standard Fee)

The Basic Daily Fee is a contribution towards daily living expenses, such as meals, laundry, cleaning, resident activities, heating and cooling. All aged care residents pay a standard Basic Daily Fee. It is reviewed every March and September, in line with Centrelink increases in the Aged Pension.

Linked to the Aged Pension, this fee is increased in line with the pension on a six monthly basis. The current daily care fees are as follows:

  • $51.21 (per day) Full pensioners and some part pensioners
  • $51.21 (per day) Self-funded retirees and some part pensioners

1a. Additional Services Fee 

All accommodation options require The McKenzie Advantage.

Please contact us, if you would like to view the full range of The McKenzie Advantage available. This fee can be deducted from the RAD or can be paid with your monthly fees, depending upon the chosen payment option.

2. Accommodation Payment

The Accommodation Payment is used to maintain and improve the accommodation and resident services at the residence.

Residents can choose to pay their Accommodation Payment by one of the following methods:

  • RAD - Refundable Accommodation Deposit
    This is a lump-sum deposit that is refunded in full at the end of residency. The Refundable Accommodation Deposit is protected by the Aged Care Act, 1997 (Commonwealth).
    DAP - Daily Accommodation Payment
  • This payment is the interest payable on any unpaid RAD and calculates it into a daily payment
  • Combination of RAD and DAP
    A combination payment that includes both a partial lump-sum refundable deposit and daily payments.

Supported Residents

Some rooms are available for residents with reduced financial means. Residents with assets under $49,500.00 and income less than $27,232.40 may, with approval, obtain funding from the Australian Government.

Supported residents may be asked to contribute to their cost of care via a Daily Accommodation Contribution (DAC) or Refundable Accommodation Contribution (RAC) or a combination of both, if their assets are between $49,500.00 and $168,351.20 and their income is greater than $26,764.40.

Residents requiring financial support are obliged to submit a “Request for Combined Assets and Income Assessment”. Centrelink will outline their payment obligation within 14 days. Basic Daily Fees still apply.

3. Means Tested Care Fee (Government Standardised Fee)

The Means Tested Care Fee ensures that residents who have additional income and assets contribute to their medical costs including nursing and personal care. This fee is not retained by the residence

The Commonwealth Government via Centrelink assesses all residents entering a Commonwealth-funded residential aged care facility.

Residents will receive information regarding their Means Tested Care Fee obligations 14 days after the completion and lodgement of the “Permanent Residential Aged Care Request for a Combined Asset and Income Assessment”. If this assessment is not completed then a higher Means Tested Care Fee may be levied until such time as the information is provided.

The Maximum Means Tested Care Fee that a resident can be asked to pay per year is $27,232.33 with a lifetime limit of $65,357.65.

4. Respite Care Fees (Government Standardised Fee)

Respite care is available for short term needs or emergency situations.

Please contact a Client Relations Manager on 1300 899 222 who will be able to give you details of your nearest residence.

Fee Collection

All McKenzie aged care residences collect the applicable fees and charges on a monthly basis in advance. Fees are collected by direct debit. Residents will need to complete a Direct Debit Request Form on admission. There is no fee associated with this direct debit service.

Step 4: How do I apply?

Aged care residences offer places when they have vacancies and you can apply to as many locations as you wish. It is important that you visit a range of residences before making any decision or accepting a place, as aged care residences vary greatly.

Visiting a selection will give you a better feel for the services and lifestyle programs on offer, style of accommodation, the physical surrounds (both inside and out) and the approach of the staff. Above all, you will get a sense of whether the residents are truly content and if you would feel happy living there.

Should you decide on a McKenzie residence, you will be required to provide the following documentation:

  • Completed Application for Admission Form. Download Application for Admission Form or call 1300 899 222 for an admissions information pack
  • A copy of your current Aged Care Assessment
  • Completed Centrelink/DVA Asset Assessment Form (only if you are applying for a supported place) Download Asset Assessment Form or call 1300 899 222 for the form and an accompanying information booklet

When a place which suits your individual requirements becomes available, you or your representative will be contacted by the aged care residence. Should you choose to accept a place in an aged care residence, you will have up to seven days to move in.

Step 5: Moving and
settling in

When a person moves into a McKenzie residence, we become a partner in the continuing relationship with family, friends and the community in which they previously lived. Not only do we become a part of their family and support network, the new resident becomes part of our family.

Our staff will provide the level of support required for the resident to maintain their independence and quality of life. Support comes in various ways, including the provision of daily social activities, assistance with personal care, having access to clinical and medical support or just knowing that they are living in a safe, secure and happy environment.

When you are offered and have accepted a place in one of our McKenzie residences, a Client Relations Manager will arrange a pre-admission meeting. This will provide you with the opportunity to ask any questions, as well as complete the necessary paperwork.

At McKenzie, we aim to make the transition for a new resident as easy and seamless as possible. When settling into a McKenzie, you are more than welcome to bring in some of your own furnishings, whether it be a favourite chair, photos or memorabilia.

We look forward to welcoming you into our family.

Further information

Some useful website links and contact numbers:

Aged Care Information Line 1800 500 853

Aged Care Online

Centrelink 132 300

Department of Health and Ageing 1800 020 103

Department of Veterans Affairs 133 254

DPS Guide to Aged Care

My Aged Care 1800 200 422

National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500

Office of the Public Advocate 1300 309 337

State Trustees 1300 138 672