Nursing home (aged care home)

What is a nursing home (aged care home)?

A nursing home (aged care home) is a place that provides residential accommodation and health care for elderly people who can no longer live at home. Nursing homes are also known as aged care homes or residential aged care facilities.

Nursing home (aged care home) residents are given assistance with a range of activities including:

  • everyday tasks such as meals, cleaning and laundry
  • personal care, like showering, toileting, dressing and eating
  • 24-hour nursing care from qualified nursing staff, including medication management, rehabilitation, continence and catheter care, and wound treatment

Many nursing homes also offer specialist health and medical care, like dementia care, palliative care, stoma care and rehabilitation.

Most nursing homes (aged care homes) in Australia are funded by the Federal Government, so they receive Commonwealth funding to subsidise the cost of delivering aged care services. There are also a small number of non-Government funded nursing homes and aged care services.

Nursing homes are run by a variety of organisations known as aged care providers. These include faith- and religious-based groups; community organisations; charities; private businesses; publicly listed companies; health insurers; and state governments, particularly in regional and remote areas.

Aged care providers are eligible for Commonwealth Government funding to run nursing homes and provide other aged care services, as long as they meet the funding and accreditation criteria set down by the Government.

Changes to Nursing Homes

Since July 1, 2014, nursing homes now provide three types of care on both a permanent and temporary basis.

To be approved for a permanent place in a nursing home, you will need to have an ACAT assessment from an ACAT team (or an ACAS assessment if you live in Victoria) to determine if you are eligible for aged care.

Nursing homes also offer respite care, if you or your carer needs a break from their caring role. You are eligible for up to 63 days of respite care every year.

Additionally, nursing homes can provide transition care if you are recovering from a stay in hospital for a maximum of 84 days.

Nursing home charge a range of fees, including a basic daily fee; a means-tested care fee; and an accommodation fee known as a Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD). There may also be additional fees for extra services such as specialist bedding, mobility devices, incontinence aids, nursing services and allied health services.

Before you move in, you must sign a Resident Agreement with your nursing home. This is a legal agreement that will outline the services and care available and the fees you will have to pay.

You can keep your own doctor and specialists and your nursing home can help to arrange transport provided you pay for transport and consultation fees. Staff can also assist in organising other healthcare services, such as physiotherapy, dentistry or podiatry.

You can still receive visits from family, friends and carers, take part in social activities and hobbies and go on holiday. You are also free to move to another nursing home if they have offered you a place.

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A special thanks to our contributors

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.