Aged Care Eligibility and Care Assessment
Before a resident is able to enter a Commonwealth regulated and funded aged care home, the person is required to have a care assessment to determine their eligibility for funding. The ACAT will perform the assessment in the family home or during the hospital stay and will, based upon the information that the person provides, and also provided by care professionals, determine the level of residential care (if any) that the care recipient is eligible for.
In this section of our complete guide to aged care placement, we will cover all the most important areas that you need to be aware of relating to the care assessment
Changes to the Assessment Process from 2021
The Commonwealth has recently announced major changes that they are considering for the current assessment processes and which will apply from 2021.
Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT/ACAS)
What is the ACAT/ACAS?
ACAT are a local team of health professionals engaged by the Commonwealth to carry out care assessments. The purpose of an ACAT and the general structure and operastion is uniform across all States and Territories.
However, in Victoria the team is called an Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) but this is functionally the same so we will use ACAT throughout our guide.
Are ACAT's independent and impartial?
The ACAT should be independent and impartial to the assessment process - this enables an independent assessment and also allows the person to choose the residential aged care provider of their choice later in the process.
If I have an ACAT do i have to go immediately to an Aged Care Home ?
What are the Expected Outcomes of an ACAT assessemnt?
My Support Plan
Aged Care Referral Code
Arranging the ACAT Assessment
Firstly you need to contact "My Aged Care"
It can take six to 12 weeks from your initial contact with My Aged Care to the date of the ACAT assessment meeting. In most cases, the assessment will take place in the home. You can have a family member, friend or carer attend the assessment for support and to help you with the questions.
The result of your ACAT assessment will determine your eligibility for a Residential Care and the level of support you receive. As Residential Care Homes are asset and income tested , it’s a good idea to organise an income and assets assessment in the time you’re waiting to meet with the ACAT assessor.
To do this, contact the Department of Human Services 1800 227 475. If you receive a Service Pension, you’ll need to contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 133 254. This determines any additional daily income-tested fee contributions towards your home care.
On the day of your ACAT assessment
During your assessment, you’ll be asked about:
- What you can do for yourself and what you’re seeking assistance with
- If you have any health concerns
- How you’re managing with activities around the home
- Your safety in the home.
- You may also be observed moving in and around your home to understand any mobility challenges you may be facing.
When answering questions, it’s really important to think about the future as well as the present. Talk about tasks and activities that are starting to become difficult and that you can see you may require more help with in the future.
How long will the assessment take? Typically, an assessment will take 60 to 90 minutes. During that time, the assessor will work with you to develop a support plan to help identify your strengths and your areas of difficulty, your goals and what you would like to achieve. The plan will help you and the assessor identify the types of support that will best suit you.
After the assessment
Within two weeks of the assessment, you’ll receive a letter from My Aged Care with the outcome of your assessment. This will set out the level of Home Care Package you have been approved to receive. If you’re unhappy with the outcome, you can register your concern with the manager of the assessment.
You’ll also be placed on a national priority ‘queue’ for Home Care Packages and will be contacted when a suitable package becomes available and assigned to you. This, unfortunately, can take up to 12 – 18 months.
After the assessment
While you wait to be assigned your Home Care Package, it’s a good idea to research potential home care providers. You can find providers in your area by contacting My Aged Care or visiting the My Aged Care website.
When you reach the top of the national list, My Aged Care will send you a letter with your referral code and Home Care Package level so you can start organising your services.
You then have 56 days to activate your services by choosing and engaging an approved provider of Home Care Packages.
What to remember
To ensure you receive the right level of government support through your ACAT assessment:
- Answer the questions your assessor asks honestly, particularly about your current situation and the challenges you face.
- Think about the future in your answers and what you may need more help with as time goes on.
- Complete the income testing process while you’re waiting for your ACAT assessment.
- Research and interview home care providers while you’re waiting for your Home Care Package to be assigned.