For children who may live a long way from mum and dad and only visit at Christmas, the vision of their parent’s declining health from their last visit 12 months ago may have come as a bit of a shock and has become a very real issue which can no longer be ignored.
For most people the steps they need to take in trying to help mum and dad are complex and without a doubt frustrating, especially if you have no knowledge of the requirements and the legislation.
I have written a number of articles covering the complexities of aged care, but I thought off the back of a possible Christmas visit it would be timely to revisit the process in logical and easy steps:
- Before mum or dad can be placed in a nursing home they require an assessment of their health and the care they need. This assessment is completed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or if you are in Victoria it will be Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS).
- Completing and lodging a “Permanent Residential Aged Care – Request for a Combined Assets and Income Assessment”. The information provided is assessed by either Centrelink or the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish your residential status and the fees you may have to pay.
- Finding a suitable home. The government website myagedcare.gov.au is an excellent starting point. This site will provide details of the homes in the area which would be suitable, the services offered and the entry costs
- Understanding the costs. All residents pay a basic daily fee currently $48.44 per day, this amount is based on 85% of the basic age pension. Some homes do charge an extra service fee. This fee will give residents options in relation to meals, crockery and cutlery, wine, pay television etc. It can vary depending on the services offered but does generally average $25 to $30 per day. A person’s income and assets will decide whether they are required to pay a daily means-tested care fee (MTCF). The maximum MTCF a person can pay is capped, currently at $26,041pa. The largest cost a resident may need to pay will be the Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD), the average at present is very close to $400,000. As the name suggests this amount is refundable and is government guaranteed.
The final step is complicated, trying to understand the fees and how they are calculated by reading the information which may have been supplied by the selected nursing home or by a government website is certainly not the best option.
This is a very stressful and emotional time and a person’s judgment can be clouded.
Decisions need to be made on the basis of a clear understanding of what fees would be payable and the how much age pension would be payable into the future.
A wrong decision made at this time is very difficult to reverse.
Dealing with the emotions surrounding these decisions is difficult enough, outsource the financial aspect to a person who not only understands the issues but is also removed from the emotional side. This should ensure the best result for mum or dad in the long run.8