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Changes to Aged Care: What you need to know – Thomas Noble & Russell

 
Rosemary Moon looks at some of the recent changes to the aged care system, and what they mean for families.

The process of selecting aged care accommodation for family members can be emotional, contentious, time-consuming and sometimes urgent.

It can also be a complicated and difficult process, as families try to understand the financial considerations of aged care.

On 1 July 2014, a number of changes were introduced to the way the aged care system works. Known as the “living longer living better” package, the government has introduced initiatives to:

  • Help elderly people remain in their homes longer
  • Increase aged care facilities
  • Improve care for those with dementia
  • Provide assistance for carers.

In addition, the government has sought ways to ensure that people who can afford to do so contribute to the cost of their care. This will be determined via a means testing, which can be a complex process.

There are typically three steps involved in planning a move to an aged care facility:

  1. Assessment to decide which level of care is appropriate
  2. Location of a suitable facility
  3. Planning of finances

The starting point is a free assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team, which determines what kind of services and level of care are required, and can help identify the right aged care facility.

A major change since 1 July is to the way that levels of care are provided. Facilities will no longer be classed as ‘low care’ or ‘high care’, with the result that all subsidised facilities will operate under a single fee structure.

The next step is applying to an aged care home, and working out how to pay for it. The cost of care will depend on the level of care provided and the individual’s financial capacity. An assessment is undertaken by the Department of Human Services to work out how much each person should contribute to the cost of their own care.

The new rules are quite complex, and potentially increases the user-pays component of care. Decisions will need to be made regarding whether to keep or sell the home, and how to best generate and manage cash flow.

In addition, a decision will need to be made within 28 days of moving into care on whether to pay for the accommodation as a daily fee of a lump sum.

There is assistance for families in this situation, and TNR has specialist aged care advisers who can help families make the right choices. Additional information is available at http://www.myagedcare.gov.au.

Author: Rosemary Moon, HLB Mann Judd, Brisbane

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