Looking to move into aged care, or need some extra help around the home to keep yourself independent? Find information here about what subsidies you may be eligible for, what services are available and where you can find help to navigate the system.
COTA Victoria’s Care Finder is a free and independent service to help you find your way around the aged care system, specifically within the South East Melbourne Primary Health Network. You can receive information about things such as:
- how to register for and use My Aged Care
- what the assessment process us
- what services and supports are available in your area.
My Aged Care
My Aged Care is a national online and phone-based service. It can help you to help you find out about aged care and home care services and what services might be best for you. My Aged Care also arranges assessments for government subsidies. Visit their website or call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422, Monday to Friday 8 am – 8 pm, Saturday 10 am – 2 pm.
Home Care Services
Home Care Services help you stay independent in your own home for longer. There are many home care products and services available. These can include things like assistance with:
- personal care
- housework and daily chores, like cooking or cleaning
- transport to appointments or shopping
- home maintenance and gardening
- respite care.
To find out if you are eligible for the programs, you will need to have an assessment. This will also figure out what level of care you need. Read more about the assessment process below. For more information on home care services or to find a provider near you, visit Aged Care Guide.
Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP)
The CHSP is for older Australians who need a little extra support at home. It provides a subsidy for one or two services. If you need more help, a Home Care Package may be a better option.
To be eligible you need to be aged:
- 65 or over (50 or over for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people)
- 50 or over and also on a low income, homeless or at risk of being homeless (45 or over for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people).
Home Care Packages (HCP)
HCPs offers higher levels of assistance than the CHSP. The eligibility ages are the same, however, HCPs are for people who need greater or more complex care. There are 4 levels of package available, which give you different amounts of funding depending on your care needs.
Aged Care Homes
Aged care homes may also be known as ‘nursing homes’ or ‘residential aged care facilities’. They are for older people who can no longer live at home. They provide ongoing help with everyday tasks or health care. Their services can include:
- help with personal hygiene and grooming
- nursing and therapy
- social activities
- day-to-day needs, such as meals and laundry
- help in emergencies.
Subsidies are available from the government to help you access aged care. How much you can receive depends on your care needs and how much you can afford to pay. You will need to have an assessment to find out what level of subsidy you are eligible for. See assessments below, visit My Aged Care or call 1800 200 422 for more information about the process.
Not all aged care homes are subsidised by the Australian Government. Some are privately run and others (such as retirement villages) are funded by local government. My Aged Care also provides a search tool to find providers near you.
Choosing Residential Care
The Aged Care Quality Agency checks the quality of residential aged care services. You can access the accreditation reports online.
Aged Care Guide offers a database of aged care homes, along with retirement villages and home care services. You can search by name, location or browse all listings. There are also comparator sites available but use these with caution. They may be funded by the providers and may also not list all of the options in your area.
Short-term and Respite Care
Short-term care provides temporary care and support. It can be from a few days to a few months at a time. Some subsidies from the government may be available. Services can include:
- assistive technology aids
- nursing, therapy or counselling
- home maintenance
- help with everyday tasks.
Read more about short-term care on My Aged Care.
Transition care can help you recover and regain your independence after being in hospital. You can access services for up to 12 weeks at a time. Help can include:
- therapy services
- nursing support
- personal care.
You will be assessed face-to-face in hospital to find out what type of care you can benefit from. Hospital staff can arrange this, or you can contact My Aged Care directly. There may be some fees, depending on your financial situation. Read more about transition care.
Respite care is a form of support to give an older person, or their carer, a short-term break from their usual arrangements. It can be on a planned or emergency basis and includes community-based respite (such as in-home respite and respite at a day centre) and residential respite care (short stays in aged care homes).
You will need a free assessment to find out your eligibility for respite care. The cost of respite care will depend on your circumstances and the kind of care you need. The Australian Government may also provide some subsidies. For more information visit My Aged Care’s page on respite care.
If you are considering moving into an aged care home or accessing help at home and would like subsidised care, you will need to have an assessment. This is done in 2 stages:
- an initial 10-minute phone call
- a face-to-face assessment.
During the phone call, a representative will talk to you about your current situation. They will work out if you are eligible to receive government-subsidised aged care services. The National Relay and the Translating and Interpreting Service are available if you need them.
You may then be referred for a face-to-face assessment. There are two types of assessment:
- Regional Assessment Service (RAS), for low-level care needs
- with the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT/ACAS), for more complex care needs.
Both assessments take place in person, in your own home and at a time that suits you. The assessments will find out your care needs and work with you to develop your support plan.
Find out more about the assessment process online or call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422, Monday to Friday 8 am – 8 pm, Saturday 10 am – 2 pm to start the process.
Fees and Charges
You may need to help pay for some of your care. Fees can include:
- a basic daily fee
- an income-tested care fee
- extra fees not included in your subsidy program or package.
The calculation of fees and services can be quite complex. It is recommended that you seek financial advice before making a choice. The Department of Human Services offers a free Financial Information Service in several languages which can help you understand the process. You can also call 132 300 for more information.
Financial Hardship Assistance
Financial hardship assistance is available for people who are unable to pay for their aged care due to unexpected reasons. There are some restrictions on who can receive the assistance, including limits on your assets and income. Read more about the criteria and application process.
Complaints and Advocacy
If you or someone you know are not happy with the aged care service, there are some organisations you can contact.
Aged Care Complaints Commissioner
You can complain about a service through the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. This can be done by phone, letter or online. Interpreting services are available. Visit their website or call 1800 951 822, Monday to Friday 9 am – 5 pm, for more information.
Elder Rights Advocacy
Elder Rights Advocacy (ERA) is a founding member of the National Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN). ERA provides information and advocacy about any aged care concerns. They can also offer support in the complaints process.
Visit their website or call them on 1800 700 600 or (03) 9602 3066, 8 am – 8 pm, Monday to Friday, and 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday.
Seniors Rights Victoria
Seniors Rights Victoria offers information and advocacy services for elder abuse. Elder abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect. Read more about the types and signs of elder abuse or call their helpline on 1300 36 88 21, Monday to Friday 9 am – 5 pm.
Support for families and carers
Carers Victoria offers information and support for families and carers. They can advise you on support services available and refer you to education or counselling services. Visit Carers Victoria’s website or call their Carer Advisory Line on 1800 242 636, Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 5 pm.
Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre (CRCC)
Each area in Victoria has its own local Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre. They can provide:
- emotional support
- short-term respite or emergency care
- advice or referrals to other services.
Find your local CRCC online, call 1800 052 222 during business hours or 1800 059 059 after hours.
Carer Gateway has many online resources to provide practical advice and support to carers. This includes:
- information about financial help
- tips and checklists
- details about respite and emergency care plans
- phone counselling and self-care guides
- an online forum to connect with other carers.
Resources are available in several languages. Visit Carer Gateway’s website, request a call-back online or call 1800 422 737 Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.