Residential Aged Care

Residential aged care explained

Residential aged care or Residential care is the type of care and support given to people living in a nursing home (aged care home). Residential aged care can be offered on a permanent basis or for a short term stay as respite care.

Residential aged care gives you access to an array of help and support ranging from assistance with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning and laundry through to 24-hour nursing care like wound and catheter care.

In Australia, the Federal Government is responsible for residential aged care including the regulation of care standards and funding under the Aged Care Act 1997.

Residential aged care services are offered by a number of providers including not-for-profit, private and public organisations.

Eligibility for residential aged care

To be eligible for Government-funded aged care, you need to be approved by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). In Victoria, this is called an ACAS. These assessments are free and can be arranged either through your doctor or through the my aged care contact centre or website.

Residential aged care is on either a permanent or respite basis. Respite care is short-term care provided on a planned or emergency basis in nursing homes to people who have been assessed and approved by an ACAT team for it. This is usually arranged to give a carer or person receiving care a break from their normal care arrangements.

People receiving care are eligible for up to 63 days of respite care every year, with extensions of up to 21 days available.

Changes to residential aged care

From July 1, 2013, the Federal Government has made a number of changes to the aged care system to ensure it continues to stay affordable for everyone and offer consumers more flexibility and choice in the care they receive.

These include a new means test of your income and assets to determine how much you have to contribute to the costs of your aged care; and more choice in how you pay for accommodation and services including a 28-day period in which you can decide how you would like to pay.

Aged care providers are also now required to publish the maximum amount they charge for their accommodation and extra services. A new capping system for fees was also introduced to make paying for aged care more affordable.

The Government has also removed the high and low care distinction from residential aged care, giving consumers and providers more flexibility in their care arrangements.

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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.