The Senior

What to expect when moving to a care home

Moving to a care home is a new experience that needs social, mental, and a series of material preparations. Picture supplied
Moving to a care home is a new experience that needs social, mental, and a series of material preparations. Picture supplied

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A care home is a facility for older people who no longer find it tenable to live in their regular homes due to increasing difficulty in performing everyday tasks and constant health issues. Leaving a place you've called home for years isn't easy. But it's sometimes the best option, especially when you need specialised help to meet your daily needs.

Moving to a care home is a new experience that needs social, mental, and a series of material preparations. First, you need to make peace with the new situation, after which you should consider making arrangements to make your transition to a care home hassle-free.

Here are four things to expect when you move to a care home:

1. Expect to offset costs for your stay at the care home

There are three types of costs that you'll encounter in a care facility in Australia. These costs are a basic daily fee, which is a maximum of $58.98 as of April 2023, accommodation costs that'll vary depending on your accommodation arrangements, and a means-tested care fee, pegged at a maximum of $358.41 per day as of April 2023.

The basic daily care fee covers daily living costs such as meals, utilities, laundry, and cleaning. On the other hand, a means-tested care fee refers to the extra payment you make towards catering for day-to-day nursing and personal care. The mean-tested maintenance fee is often limited to people who can afford it.

The basic daily fee goes up twice a year in tandem with the age pension, which is indexed twice yearly to keep up with the rising cost of living. The basic daily care fee is 85 per cent of the age pension, which refers to the amount paid to support the living standards of older Australians.

2. You may be eligible for government support

The care home you move into may make you eligible for government support. To improve aged care experiences, the Australian government funds select aged care homes. Eligibility for government support depends on the proven need for government support. To be eligible for government support, you must first be of advanced age and unable to live independently.

The Australian government can offset your accommodation costs to a maximum of $55 per day. The remainder of the amount will then be up to you to cover. Apart from your income level, the amount subsidised will also depend on how recently the aged care home was refurbished. The more recent the refurbishment, the higher the amount paid in subsidy.

Your financial situation doesn't affect eligibility for government support if you live in an eligible institution but will impact the amount you receive and the balance you need to offset.

The government can also help in offsetting the means-tested care fee. To determine the amount it'll contribute, the government will assess a combination of your assets and income then decide how much to settle. Depending on the assessment outcome, the amount could be from $0 to $260.

3. You have 28 days to decide how you'll offset your accommodation costs

The Australian law allows you to move to a care home and pay a daily accommodation fee until 28 days (about four weeks) have elapsed, after which you'll provide a more comprehensive payment option. There are three common avenues for settling accommodation costs:

  • Refundable accommodation deposit (RAD): RAD refers to the standard room price paid by a refundable lump sum. Your care home will require you to make a lump sum payment within six months. RAD payment will be refunded when you leave the care home or be refunded to your estate after your demise. RAD payments are often for residents who aren't eligible for government support.
  • Daily accommodation payment (DAP): DAP payments have the same payment structure as a rental property. Here, the amount you owe is calculated by multiplying the maximum interest rate to a room's refundable accommodation deposit (RAD). The total is then divided by the number of days in a year. Unlike RADs, DAP is non-refundable.

If, for example, the DAP is $400,000 and the interest rate is 4.07 per cent, RAD will be calculated by multiplying $400,000 by 4.07 and then dividing it by 365 days (about 12 months) in a year. The total sum would then be a DAP of $49 per day.

4. Expect to enjoy specialised services

In most care homes, the care services you're entitled to include personal care and help in activities such as bathing, help in taking medication, eating, and any other health treatments necessary.

Also, you'll benefit from clinical care based on your health needs. Clinical care activities that you can find at care homes can include speech therapy, nursing services, and physiotherapy. Most clinical care activities are offered purely on a need basis.

Parting shot

Every care home has its own set of rules that residents must adhere to. Make sure that before you move to a care home, you've become conversant not only with the code of conduct of the place but also with whether it has any specialised services you may require. Also, find out what payment options are available to you and whether the facility of choice is eligible for government support should you need one.