To access government-subsidised residential aged care, respite care, and home care services, you must first be assessed as eligible by the Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) or Regional Assessment Service (RAS). An aged care assessment is an essential part of the aged care process and is used to recommend the type and level of care that will best meet your needs. Assessments are not required for aged care services that the Australian Government does not fund, that is, services that you decide to pay for privately.
For government-subsidised services, the service that completes the assessment is dependent on the information you provide to My Aged Care. If you require low-level support to stay independent in your own home, a RAS assessor will be recommended, and you will be assessed for support through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP). If your support needs are more significant than what the Commonwealth Home Support Program can provide, a comprehensive assessment with an ACAS assessor may be recommended.
How do I get an assessment?
There are two ways to get an aged care assessment:
- Call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or complete an online form at www.myagedcare.gov.au
- Get a referral from your GP or a health care professional.
The assessment is free of charge and funded by the Australian Government. However, you will need to be registered with My Aged Care to set up an assessment. Assessment waiting times vary; however, generally, you can expect to wait up to six weeks for an assessment depending on your needs and how urgent your situation is. If you are in a hospital or a rehabilitation facility, an aged care assessment can be expedited by the hospital team caring for you or your loved one, so it is best to ask for the assessment whilst still under their care.
Preparing for the face-to-face assessment
To assist the assessor during the assessment, you should have available:
- Your Medicare card and one other form of identification – such as a DVA card, driver’s licence, healthcare card or passport;
- A copy of any referrals from your doctor;
- Any information you already have about aged care services;
- Contact details for your local GP or any other health professionals you are currently seeing; and
- Information on any support you now receive (if any), e.g., service provider details.
It is advisable to have a family member, carer, or friend attend the assessment with you.
At the face-to-face assessment
The assessor will have a copy of the information you provided to My Aged Care. The assessor may ask about the following:
- Support you currently have in place, and if it will continue;
- Your health, lifestyle and any health concerns you may have;
- How you manage daily tasks and activities around the home;
- If you have problems with your memory;
- Any issues relating to the home and personal safety;
- Family support or contact, and community activities you may participate in; and
- Contact with your GP or other health professionals.
Using the above information, the assessor will work with you to develop your Support Plan. Your support plan sets out the care and services that will best suit you and your needs, as well as identifying your preferences and goals.
What can I expect after the assessment?
The RAS or ACAS assessor will complete a report following the face-to-face assessment and make a recommendation for the level of care and support you need. You will receive a letter outlining your eligibility, approval for services (including unique referral code/s) and a copy of your Support Plan. This letter is important and is required to access services or to find an aged care home.
You will receive two letters if you have been approved for a Home Care Package (HCP). The first letter will inform you of the outcome of your assessment and indicate the home care package level you have been approved for. This letter confirms that you are now on the Home Care Package National Queue (waitlist). Depending on the package level you have been approved for and your situation, waiting times can vary. Approximate waiting times per package level are:
- Level 1 – Basic care needs – 3-6 months
- Level 2 – Low-level care needs – 9-12 months
- Level 3 – Intermediate-level care needs – 9-12 months
- Level 4 – High-level care needs – 9-12 months
The second letter you will receive will be your ‘assignment’ letter. This letter indicates that you are no longer on the waitlist, and a home care package has been assigned to you. You will have 56 days to choose a service provider once you have been assigned a package.
The My Aged Care website (www.myagedcare.gov.au) can assist you in finding and comparing aged care providers in your local area. When you give your referral code(s) to your chosen service provider, they will view your My Aged Care online account, accept the referral, and start organising services for you.
What if my circumstances change following my assessment?
Service providers are expected to deliver care and services consistent with your My Aged Care Support Plan recommendations. In addition, all service providers should develop a care and service plan in partnership with you, which summarises your preferences and goals; and the service delivery requirements to achieve those goals.
Aged care providers are responsible for monitoring and reviewing care and service plans and should have review processes in place. Reviews are essential to ensure your requirements and goals are being met. Where there is no recommended review date, a service provider is expected to review care and services at least every 12 months.
You may request a review of your My Aged Care Support Plan to accommodate changes in your circumstances. Outcomes of support plan reviews may include:
- Identification of new goals and associated referral(s) for service delivery;
- Setting of another review date or end date for service delivery;
- No change to the existing support plan;
- New assessments, whether by the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) or Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS), as the support plan and your needs, have changed significantly.
How can SereneCare help?
SereneCare can provide you with advice and guidance on registering for government-subsidised services and support you through the assessment process. We can also assist you with accessing privately funded services if you do not meet the eligibility criteria.
If you are approved for a Home Care Package, as an approved provider, SereneCare can assist you in managing your Home Care Package and coordinating your services. We can provide you with as little or as much assistance as you require, and our experienced Care Managers can tailor our input to your individual needs, preferences, and goals.
If you are eligible and considering residential aged care, SereneCare can assist you by investigating and recommending residential aged care homes that best meet your needs and preferences. We can then help you visit your preferred home to support the decision-making process; and support your final transition to your new home.
So, call or email SereneCare to discover how we can support you to live safely and independently in your own home or help you transition to residential aged care.
Please note: Additional information about the aged care assessment process for government-subsidised services can be found at www.myagedcare.gov.au