1.1 How do you get through the aged care system?
Welcome to the beginning of your 9-step journey to find an aged care home (nursing home) in Australia.
Give yourself some time because it can take several weeks to get everything done.
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The federal government has a huge role in aged care. They fund aged care homes and they make sure the homes are up to standard. Importantly for you, the government also subsidises some of your costs – so they need to know what care you need and how much you can afford to pay.
You need to register yourself with the government department, which you can do through My Aged Care by dialing 1800 200 422.
They will give you a client number and once you have this then you are on the way.
If the person you are helping are not capable of making vital decisions, it will be up to other family (or friends or guardians) to get the legal power. We will deal in detail with these big questions in the next steps.
Before that, here are some key facts which might help.
- Aged care homes (nursing homes) are places where you can live and get the level of care and assistance that you can’t really get while living at home. This includes 24-hour nursing care from qualified staff, managing your medicines, continence care and treatment and care of wounds, etc.
- Aged care homes aren’t only for permanent residents.
- Aged care homes also provide temporary accommodation so that carers can have a break (up to 63 days a year). This can be extended in lots of 21 days if further assessment finds it necessary. Respite can also be a halfway point if you have been in hospital but you aren’t quite up to going back home (up to 84 days a year).
1.2 What are aged care home providers?
Aged care homes (nursing homes) are run by a variety of organisations and companies that are referred to as aged care service providers. They can include:
- Faith based/religious organisations
- Community organisations
- Publicly listed companies
- Health insurers
- State governments (in regional and remote areas where aged care homes are often integrated with the local hospital and other health-related services)
Commonwealth Government funding is available for aged care providers, as long as they meet the funding and accreditation criteria and act within other Australian laws.
Approximately 60% of people entering aged care homes receive the full aged care pension and pay 85% of their pension towards their aged care cost. those not on the full aged care pension will need to pay top up fees.
1.3 What is the government's role in aged care?
Government's role in aged care
The Commonwealth government is responsible for the aged care system in Australia. Aged care falls under the Department of Health. The majority of aged care homes receive Federal government funding via subsidies.
Before they can receive Commonwealth funding, all aged care homes in Australia have to be accredited and approved by the Australian Government. The government organisation responsible for managing both the accreditation process and the quality systems for government subsidised aged care homes is the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency.
Aged care homes must comply with all 44 expected outcomes against four broad accreditation standards at all times.
The Agency publishes a report of every accreditation audit. This report also includes any notices of non-compliance or sanctions on its website.
Monitoring the quality of aged care homes
To be accredited and to receive government funding, aged care homes MUST all go through the same process of accreditation on a regular and ongoing basis.
The length of time awarded to a home for its accreditation status is a reflection of the findings in the assessment process. Aged care homes with 3-year accreditation have met the standards effectively. Homes with 1-year or 2-year accreditation have met the standards but generally still need to make some changes or improvements.
There are three ways of finding out if a home is fully accredited or has a problem with accreditation, including the nature of the problem.
1. The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency publishes the full report of every aged care home’s accreditation audit on its website.
To read the current accreditation audit report of any Commonwealth subsidised aged care home, you can use the Quality Agency’s search function.
2. The Department of Health publishes the names of all aged care homes which have been issued with notices of ‘Non-Compliance’ or ‘Sanctions’ on its website at this Department of Health link.
The Department of health link also includes homes that have been non-compliant or sanctioned within the last two years.
3. The My Aged Care website also identifies aged care homes that have received a sanction in its Aged Care Home Finder.
Aged care audits are incredibly thorough down to interviewing not only the residents by the resident's family. Most take several days with two inspectors on site.
1.4 What are aged care providers?
Aged Care Providers
There are three main peak bodies representing aged care providers. Their role involves advocating on behalf of their aged care provider membership in public and political arenas, developing aged care policy, as well as providing leadership, professional support, staff training and other member services.
The three main peak bodies are:
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) represents ‘mission-based’ - not-for-profit and faith-based - providers of aged care homes (nursing homes); home care and community care services; and housing and support for people with a disability and their carers. ACSA represents “over 1,100 church and charitable and community based organisations providing accommodation and care services to over 700,000 older people.”
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) represents “both private sector and not-for-profit providers delivering retirement living, home care and residential aged care services.”
You should ask if your care provider is a member of a peak body or sector association. It reflects their commitment to ongoing training, the latest systems and procedures and accountability.