How do I navigate the aged care system?

9 Steps to an Aged Care Home

Here is a summary of what you will achieve through our 9-step process in order to secure aged care services and enter an aged care home (nursing home):

You will learn:

  • Aged care home costs
  • How to create a government Client Record at the My Aged Care call centre or website
  • How to book an ACAT (or ACAS) assessment through My Aged Care
  • How to organise an Income & Assets Test (130 questions) through the Department of Human Services


Below is more information on each step. It is likely that you will want even more details when you get into each phase so we have designed the 9 chapters of aged care homes (nursing homes) to help you.


Our 101 Must Do Steps 1 - 9

1. Get informed – especially about the money (allow 2+ weeks)

The aged care system has changed. You now have to pay part of your aged care costs. Everyone has to register in the system and reveal how much wealth we have. This means forms and legal documents. You can’t move forward without them.

Go to Step 1: Get Informed

2. Get set up – ‘permission’ to act and client record (allow up to 4 weeks)

You can’t talk to the aged care system or banks or others unless you have ‘capacity’, meaning you can prove you are mentally healthy, or you have ‘permission’ if you are representing someone else. Both require medical or legal documents.

You have to then establish a ‘client record’ at the my aged care call centre or web site. You need documents with you to do this. Allow 2 weeks to collect them together and up to a week to successfully complete the my aged care process. 

Go to Step 2: Get Set Up

3. Get assessed – an ACAT appointment and report (allow 8 weeks)

You need to organize an ACAT assessment to decide how much care support you need. You book an appointment through the my aged care call centre or web site. An assessor comes to your home (or hospital). You can’t really talk to any aged care homes until you have the assessment results. Unless a genuine emergency, allow up to 6 weeks to have the appointment and 2 weeks for the results to be mailed to you.

Go to Step 3: Get Assessed

4. Work out your finances – how much you pay (allow 2 to 6 weeks)

Everybody has to complete the government’s 130 question Assets & Income test. The results tell you how much you have to pay for each aged care home. The homes are unlikely to talk to you without this. You also have to work out what you can afford. You need access to bank accounts, legal documents and many other pieces of information.

Go to Step 4: Understanding the Costs

5. Search for a home – different homes have different services (allow 1 to 2 weeks)

Your ACAT assessment will let you know the services that you require and that the Government will contribute to the costs. Not every home has all services. Location can be a big factor – close to family or transport. You will need to narrow down the search by elimination.

Go to Step 5: Searching for an Aged Care Home

6. Operators – different services, costs and contracts (allow 1 week)

Checking out the operator of your chosen home is important. They are being handed responsibility for medical and emotional care. Each has a unique range of services that may also incur costs.

Go to Step 6: Get to Know the Operators

7. Applications – costs vary and vacancies are low (allow 8 to 12 weeks)

There are four separate fees and costs you may have to pay. Depending on your wealth will decide if you can afford your first, second or third choice of homes. Most homes also have less than 5% vacancies, each with different services, which you may not need. You will likely make multiple applications to homes to find what you can afford and want.

Go to Step 7: Apply to an Aged Care Home

8. Agreements – a contract will need to be negotiated and signed (allow 1-2 weeks)

You will be entering a contract that requires a financial commitment by you. It will need to be negotiated. You may need to prove that you can pay the contract commitments of ongoing costs – that may last into several years. You may be asked for additional legal documents for the home’s files covering medical intervention.

Go to Step 8: Signing Agreements

9. Moving – raise the money, sell the family home, deal with family (allow 12 -26 weeks)

You may have to raise money to pay daily fees plus a possible large lump sum, usually requiring the sale of the family home. Respect and emotions are often challenged, requiring time. Documents, preparing the home and the sale require time.

Go to Step 9: Moving to your Aged Care Home

This journey may seem overwhelming but be reassured that you are not alone. Every year over 60,000 people enter aged care homes permanently. Read each of the Aged Care Homes Chapters 1 to 9 here and take notes or print out the lists and tips.

Our strong advice: pull together the documents you will need at each step. It will save you great frustration. Also, check out our 101File below as a starting point for tracking your home searches.

Pull together the documents you will need at each step. It will save you great frustration. Also, check out our 101File below as a starting point for tracking your home searches

What are aged care homes?

Aged care homes provide both accommodation and 24 hour a day care for people who are unable to get the type of care and other assistance they need at home. Aged care homes are sometimes described as ‘residential aged care facilities’ or ‘nursing homes’ too.

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