Need to plan a move to residential aged care?
This can be a stressful time, but early planning and good advice can minimise the stress for you and your family.
You will be faced with many personal and financial decisions.
Reduce the stress by planning ahead.
Start with a family meeting to make shared decisions. Use this meeting to:
- Discuss options and preferences
- Explore each person's concerns
- Decide who needs to be involved in any planning.
Frank and open discussion is the first step to an effective decision-making process.
2. Assessing options
Aged care help can be accessed in your home or in a residential service.
To help you decide which option is best, arrange a free assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/ACAS).
You will need to have ACAT/ACAS approval before you can access government subsidised services.
3. Searching for services
If residential care is required think about what criteria is important in deciding where to live. Make a list. This should include location, amenities and your health care needs.
This list will help you to develop a shortlist of potential services which you might like to contact or visit. But first check what fees will be asked for accommodation to ensure it is affordable for you.
If all your boxes are ticked you can fill in an application form to add your name to the waiting list. You can put your name on the waiting list for more than one service to increase your chances of finding a place.
4. Understanding costs
What you will pay for residential care is divided into contributions towards accomodation, care and additional services.
How much you have to pay may depend on:
- The service you choose
- Your assessable assets
- Your assessable income
The total payable can be hard to calculate without good advice.
You need to pay for your accommodation. This is a contribution towards the cost of your room, use of the amenities and maintenance. You can choose to pay a lump sum or a daily payment or a combination.
- Refundable accommodation deposits (RADS) are paid as a lump sum. Just like buying a house, the amount you pay may depend on the location and quality of the accommodation. The amount you pay is fully refunded when you leave, unless you ask for other fees to be deducted from the RAD or you have outstanding fees when you leave. Repayment is guaranteed by the Federal Government if paid to an approved care service. Ask to see their certificate.
- Daily accommodation payments (DAPs) are like paying "rent" or interest on any unpaid RAD.
5. Covering the costs
Before making a move, a complete review of your financial situation is ideal to ensure you can create sufficient cashflow and maximise your estate.
Many decisions may need to be made including:
- Should the family home be kept, sold or rented?
- Is it best to pay a RAD or DAP for accommodation?
- How is your Centerlink/Veteran's Affairs pension affected and can this be improved?
- What are the best investment options for any surplus money?
- How to manage any taxation implications?
- What are the implications for your estate?
6. Estate Planning
Anytime your circumstances change it is important to consider the impact this has on your estate plans. This includes when you move into aged care.
Review your will and if needed, update it to reflect any changes.
Review investments with 'death benefit' nominations.
Make sure you have the appropriate powers in place so that someone you trust can make decisions on your behalf.
An Enduring Power of Attorney covers financial decisions even when you are no longer able to make these decisions yourself.
Similarly, an Enduring Guardianship covers decisions on your care and living arrangements.
These documents can only be put in place while you are deemed of sound mind so it's wise to establish them early.
When you accept a place in an aged care service you will be asked to sign a Resident Agreement. This will detail the services provided and fees payable. It will also outline your rights and obligations.
Fees may commence once the place is accepted but you have 28 days to decide whether to pay for your accommodation as a lump sum (RAD) or a daily fee (DAP). After this you still have time to rearrange assets to make the payments.
If you receive Centrelink or Veterans' Affairs payments, you must notify the change in living arrangements as well as any changes to your income and assets.
Don't forget to let your doctor, bank, Medicare, electoral roll and other relevant organisations know your new address details.