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Residential Aged Care Applications - July Newsletter

For many ageing Australian’s there will come a time where they need to access residential respite or permanent care. They might be in hospital and benefit from short-term respite before returning home. The primary carer might be on holiday or unable to care for a period of time, so respite is required for interim support. Or the individual might no longer be able to remain at home and require permanent placement.

Trying to navigate this time can feel incredibly overwhelming. Where do I begin? What paperwork is required? How much will it cost me? What options do I have?

For this reason, the theme I’ve chosen for July is

Residential Aged Care Applications. 



I want to preface this by saying, if you’re in the middle of this process yourself and feeling incredibly overwhelmed - you’re not alone.

Learning how to apply for aged care facilities at a time when you’re already stressed caring for a loved one can feel like an impossible task. It’s not for everyone and a lot of people choose to outsource the task to consultants like myself, who can assist with finding a long-term home for your loved one.

For those who cannot fund a private consultant, I like to walk them through some of the key steps for finding respite or permanent care.

I also want to say from the start, this is a high level overview. There are a number of financial complexities when moving into care, so if you’re navigating this on your own I highly encourage you to speak with an aged care financial advisor to better understand your options.



1 - Have ACAT Assessment

To access Government funded respite or permanent care, you will need approval from an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessment.

If you have never been assessed for aged care services, contact My Aged Care and request an assessment. Advise you’re seeking residential respite or permanent care for yourself or your loved one.

If you have been assessed, but aren’t sure if you have these approvals, you can contact My Aged Care to confirm. You can also refer to your Support Plan (pictured below), which will detail an 12 digit codes for respite or permanent care.

2 - Source Clinical Information

The next thing you’ll need to go alongside your ACAT Support Plan is either:

a) if at home - a Health Summary from your GP

b) if in hospital/rehab - a Clinical Handover from the hospital/rehab

This will provide the facility with information regarding your current health conditions, medications and if in hospital, what lead to your admission and how you’re progressing.

3 - Understand Your Budget

Please note, this is not financial advice and I strongly suggest you seek independent advice from a professional that specialises in this area. I can refer you to excellent financial advisors around Australia if you need assistance.


Respite fees are calculated at 85% of the daily pension, which is currently $61.96/day. Some facilities will also charge an additional services fee - you can query this amount when applying.

There are no means tested fees for residential respite care.


An average room in an aged care facility in Adelaide will cost around $550,000. You can find basic double rooms for as low as $150,000 and top-end rooms above $1,000,000. You have three different options when it comes to paying your for your room.

1. Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD)

This is when you pay the full amount yourself. The amount is refundable, so will be given back to the individual or their estate when they leave the facility.

2. Daily Accommodation Payment (DAP)

This is a more ‘rental’ style model, which is calculated by applying the maximum permissible interest rate (MPIR) to your agreed room price and dividing the amount by 365.

E.g. Room costs $500,000:

DAP = (room price × MPIR) / 365

= ($500,000 × 8.36%) / 365

= $114.52/day

3. RAD/DAP Combination

This involves paying a lump-sum towards the room cost to reduce your daily payments.

E.g. Room costs $500,000:

You pay a $250,000 RAD = $250,000 remaining for DAP

= ($250,000 x 8.36%) / 365

= $57.26/day

The My Aged Care website explains Accommodation Payments in greater detail here.


On top of the accommodation payment, there are daily payments that apply, such as:

  • Basic Daily Fee - set at 85% of the daily pension, everyone pays this

  • Means Tested Fee - this varies depending on your income and assets, you can find an approximate value by completing the ‘Fee Estimator’

  • Additional Services Fee - a lot of facilities charge an additional services fee which covers services such as Netflix, hairdressing, meal options etc. This is often waived for full pensioners or palliative residents

It is important that you know a rough estimate of how much you have to spend before you start applying for facilities.

If you do not have any assets, you may be eligible for a fully Government funded bed. Each aged care facility will have a number of fully subsidised beds, which ensures those without money can also access quality care.

4 - Find Bed Vacancy

This can be the trickiest step…

Residential Aged Care facilities are more and more full, so finding available beds can be challenging. The larger organisations tend to have an ‘admissions team’ which look after all new enquiries for all sites. The smaller organisations tend to deal with applications on a site basis.

Some organisations have specific beds allocated for respite, others are happy to start clients on respite with a view for permanent admission down the track.

I generally suggest people start with their preferred facilities in their preferred area and gradually expand their search area. Expect to make a lot of phone calls and emails. Each facility will want to review the individuals ACAT Support Plan and their clinical information.

BE AWARE - just because a facility has a bed available, this does not mean you can definitely have it. Facilities consider applications on a case by case basis.  

They may have a 10 bedroom wing that already has 8 high needs residents, so they’re looking for someone with low needs. Alternatively, they might have 7 low care residents, so they’re looking for someone with higher care needs.

Facilities are funded depending on complexity. The higher the care needs, the more funding the facility receives to care for that individual. This ensures that higher needs clients aren’t disadvantaged. However, it will always come down to the balance of clients already residing in that area.


Whilst having contacts at facilities, understanding the processes and knowing what to ask for definitely helps when applying at aged care homes, there is an element that purely comes down to timing and luck. The best bed finder in Australia can’t ‘make’ a bed come available.

If there’s no urgency, you can go on a waitlist at your preferred facility and wait until a suitable bed comes available. If you do this option, I strongly encourage you to check back in with the facility to let them know you’re still interested.

If you are under time pressure and are having difficulty finding a facility, you may need to slowly expand your search. Knowing your priorities helps to know where to flex first e.g. do you feel more strongly about an ensuite or the ideal location? Would you rather move a little outside of your preferred area for the perfect room? Or would prefer to stay in your ideal suburb, but be willing to negotiate on sharing a bathroom?


If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email. I’m always happy to help point people in the right direction.

My podcast, ‘The Truth About Ageing’ is still on hiatus, but I’m starting to prepare for the next season. We’ll be deep diving into residential care finances, what to do after a loved one dies and what impact the ageing population is having on our aged care system. You can still access the full back-catalogue of episodes through your favourite podcast app (Apple Podcasts, Spotify) or at

Occasionally I also post updates on socials, which you can find at:

Facebook - @navigateagedcareau

Instagram - @thetruthaboutageing

Thank you again for being part of the Navigate gang. Please feel free to pass this email on to a friend of family member - the more the merrier!

Big love,


If you’d like to chat about your unique situation and gain a better understanding of options available to you, please book a free 15 minute consult via the ‘Book Now’ button below.

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