Step 1.1

How do you get through the aged care system?

Making your way through the aged care system

Welcome to your 9 step journey to find an aged care home (nursing home). 

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View transcript of video here

We’ve set it out this way because getting yourself or a loved one into an aged care home can be complicated – though it doesn’t have to be if you take it a step at a time.  But give yourself some time because it can take several weeks to get everything done.

The federal government has a huge role in aged care.  For example 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 details such as what you need in terms of care and how much you can afford to pay.

Top Tip

The federal government has a huge role in aged care. Importantly for you, the government also subsidises some of your costs.

The bureaucracy can seem frustrating at times, but we are here to help you get through the hoops.  The key is that you need to register yourself with the government department, which you can do through My Aged Care or by dialing 1800 200 422 

They will give you a client number and once you have this then you are on the way. 

One major barrier to getting through the system maybe not knowing who is legally capable of making the vital decisions.  It may be that mum or dad is not capable, in which case 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).

Have a question? Open our discussion forum

2 weeks
Time estimate to complete all of the tasks within this step, including all sub-steps.

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A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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.