How to help a family member realise it’s time for care

It is often a gradual realisation that a parent is not coping as well as they used to at home.

Even when you consider that a parent, or parents, might need some form of care there are more hurdles to overcome. Your parent, or parents, may vehemently disagree and your own partner may not support your thinking.

Sometimes it’s more sudden. An illness, injury, or hospital stay that makes it clear the best way forward for them is residential aged care.


It’s an emotional time and there is a lot to happen before a parent can move into residential aged care.


Anyone moving to a residential aged care facility has to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to determine the level of care it is felt a person needs. Assessments are free and can be arranged by visiting or calling 1800 200 422.

It will take weeks before an assessment is arranged at your parent’s home. Be ready with a Medicare care number, details of your doctor and any other health professionals the parent is seeing. If you have any support in place, such as cleaning services, let the assessment team know..

As the assessment will take weeks, use the time to decide where you want your parent to move to. Often it is to be nearer the children, or a particular child, but your parent also may have local friends she sees often. Maintaining connections is very important so it helps your parent if they move to somewhere that makes visiting easy for everyone.


If a decision is made on location, research what is available on and call the facilities and arrange a visit. It will be an eye-opener for good and bad reasons and if you check out two aged care homes, they likely will be very different from each other.

Think from your parent’s perspective what would suit your parent and make them feel most comfortable.

Check out the food menus and also see what activities are held weekly.


If you narrow the options of aged care homes, check what the financial arrangements are. The Australian Government subsidises residential aged care, and how much each person contributes depends on their financial situation. This is determined by Services Australia through a form you need to complete and submit to them. Once Services Australia has provided a fee advice letter you will be able to discuss with your chosen home the actual costs that would be involved for your parent to receive care with them.

The final step

If you reach agreement on the best home for your parent, contact the home and arrange an interview about the application process and answer any questions you have about payments. An appointment will be arranged with one of the home’s clinical leaders so care needs can be discussed in detail.

It’s a big step, and deserves the time to be done right.

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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.