Video Transcript - Time is Your Enemy So Start Early

Video Transcript - Time is Your Enemy So Start Early

If you want a place in an aged care home (nursing home), the very, very best advice we can give you is to start early – because time is not your friend, it’s your enemy. Allow two months or more to just get set up before shopping around for a home.

Here is a snapshot of the major steps you will need to take.  First, if you are looking for someone else you will need to be able to prove you have the authority to speak on their behalf. This is not always straight forward, especially if they do not have the ‘capacity’ to speak on their own behalf. This will involve the GP or other doctors and legal documents. Allow a week at least to organise this during office hours.  

Next you have to register the person in the aged care system – this means establishing a client record and a client number.  You need quite a lot of personal information which you have to collect beforehand. Allow a week to get this together if it is all handy. Longer if it is not.  You register at the Government’s myagedcare call center or go to their web site. If you have all the information this will take a minimum of 30 minutes to actually do. Many people however have to go back a number of times because they are missing little bits of information. Allow another week for this process.  When the client number is issued an ACAT assessment will need to be ordered – it’s called an ACAS assessment in Victoria. An assessor will come to the home (or hospital) to assess how much care support is needed.  An urgent ACAT appointment can be achieved in 48 hours but most appointments take up to 6 weeks or longer to occur. It then takes about two weeks more to get the actual report in the mail – and sometimes longer – that is about 8 weeks all up and you can’t get in to most homes without the ACAT assessment.  We are now at 10 weeks.

But it doesn’t finish here. These days you may be asked to pay for some or all of your aged care home (nursing home) costs and the Government requires you to do an income and assets test. This is a very serious form of more than 130 detailed questions that have to be accurately filled out. You have to ask for it from myagedcare or the Department of Health.

Most people take weeks and weeks to get the information together before they can fill out the form. For instance, you will need all the bank account information and balances. Do you have the authority to get this information? If not, you need to get this authority first, for instance.  Once you submit the form and it is OK, it will take 4 to 6 weeks to process. You won’t know how much you have to pay until this is done – so it makes it hard to know which aged care homes (nursing homes) you can afford.  This is another 8 weeks if you did not start early.

Now you can start searching for a home in the right price bracket and that has the facilities you need.  But be aware that most homes operate at 95% occupancy. It is rare that the place you want will be available within the first 3 to 4 homes you approach. Talking and visiting 5 to 7 to 10 homes is not unusual and taking up weeks to months to do.

So you can see that two months is ambitious from start to finish to find an aged care home (nursing home) and three months or more is likely. 

It can be all be highly stressful which is why we strongly advise you to start early and to check out all the sections here on agedcare101 to get prepared. We are here to help you on your journey.

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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.