Types of Aged Care and What It Costs

As we get older, there comes a point when all of us must admit we need a bit of help to manage our day-to-day activities. If you need some help, or you are caring for a loved one who needs some help, here is a basic explanation of what different types of aged care help is available and how much you can expect to pay for it.

Help Options For Aged Care

There are two main types of help available for older people who need it – at home care, and residential care. We’ll talk about these two separately.

One important contact you need to know is My Aged Care. You can call them for free on 1800 200 422 on Monday to Saturday, and their contact centre staff will ask you some questions to help understand your needs and provide advice. My Aged Care will create a client record for you, so that you won’t need to tell your story over and over when you speak to assessors and service providers. You can also find a list of aged care service providers on the My Aged Care website.

At Home Care

What is at home care?

There are a vast number of services that can be provided to help you stay in your own home. My Aged Care can help you find a service provider for the following services:

  • Personal care to help with daily living needs such as bathing and getting dressed
  • Domestic assistance with the cleaning, shopping, cooking, etc.
  • Meals cooked and delivered to you
  • Nursing care in your home
  • Allied health and therapy for in-home visits from health professionals to help you stay healthy and active, e.g. physiotherapists, occupational therapists, podiatrists, or dietitians
  • Social support group or individual activities to keep you active with friends in your community
  • Respite care (centre-based, cottage-based, or flexible respite) when you or your carers need a break for a day
  • Counselling and emotional support
  • Transport, someone to drive you to the shops and the doctor
  • Assistive technology aids and other equipment to help you get around, such as walking frames
  • Home maintenance and handyman services such as changing light bulbs or leaky taps
  • Home modifications to install a wheelchair ramp, safety rail, or security alarms
  • Transition care when you’ve just returned home from hospital and need some extra help getting back on your feet

How can I get at home care?

There are two ways to get subsidised help to stay in your own home or stay in an independent living situation in a retirement village:

  1. Commonwealth Home Support Programme: Contact My Aged Care and they will set up an assessment by the Regional Assessment Service (RAS).
  2. Home Care Packages: Contact My Aged Care and they will set up an assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) (ACAS in Victoria).

Home Care Package is customised to meet your specific care needs, such as personal care, assistance with housework, nursing care and other allied health services.

Residential Care

What is residential care?

Sometimes it is no longer practical to continue living independently in your own home, especially if you are on your own. When you approach that point in life, it is worth considering moving into an aged care home where you can get care when you need it and where daily living is made that much easier.

Respite care is also included in residential care, so the fees will be the same.

The services included in residential care include:

  • Accommodation and accommodation-related goods such as furnishings and bedding
  • Respite care (centre-based, cottage-based, or flexible respite) when you or your carers need a break for a day
  • Laundry services
  • Cleaning services
  • Meals and refreshments are provided for you
  • The building and grounds are maintained for you, with handymen and gardeners
  • Personal care to help with daily living needs such as bathing and getting dressed
  • Nursing care
  • Medical staff to help you in an emergency
  • Allied health and therapy for in-home visits from health professionals to help you stay healthy and active, e.g. physiotherapists, occupational therapists, podiatrists, or dietitians
  • Transition care when you’ve just returned home from hospital and need some extra rehabilitation treatment
  • Assistive technology aids and other equipment to help you get around, such as walking frames
  • Aids to help you go to the toilet on your own and manage incontinence
  • Basic medical and pharmaceutical supplies and equipment
  • Help with taking your medications
  • The supply of short-term oxygen when needed
  • Basic toiletries such as tissues, toothpaste, denture cleaning preparations, shampoo and conditioner, and talcum powder

How can I get residential care?

If you want to move into an aged care home that is subsidised by the government, you can start by organising a free assessment with an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). An ACAT is a doctor or other health professional who works out what services you need and whether you are eligible to receive subsidised residential care.

When you need planned residential respite care, you can call an ACAT to assess your eligibility and set it up. Find your local ACAT or read more about ACAT assessments on the My Aged Care website.

If you need emergency respite care, phone your local Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre (CRCC) on 1800 052 222 during business hours, or 1800 059 059 outside business hours. They don’t have their own national website because each state and territory has their own centre.

How much should I expect to pay?

Our government in Australia subsidises a good deal of the cost of aged care. They will pay an amount towards the cost of your aged care, and if you can afford to, you should also expect to pay a small amount towards the cost.

The actual fees you may be asked to pay will depend on your income, which is assessed by the Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. You’ll need to know how much income you and your partner receive, and how much you and your partner own in assets. You can use the My Aged Care Income and Assets Checklist to make sure you’ve listed all of your income and assets.

The My Aged Care fee estimator can help you work out how much you can expect to pay for the type of care you want. The fees listed below are current at November 2015, but you should note that fees are indexed (increased) twice each year in March and September when the Age Pension gets increased.

Commonwealth Home Support Programme:

  • You will have to pay some of the fee for this care, and how much you pay depends on your income.
  • The government also pays some of the fee for this care.

Home Care Package:

  • You can expect to pay a basic daily fee of around $10 per day for receiving care. The basic fee for a full fortnight of care for one person can be up to 17.5% of a single person’s Age Pension for a fortnight ($137.76 at the time of writing).
  • The government pays the income-tested care fee of around $28 per day if you have a low income. If you have an income higher than $25,000 threshold (or $39,000 for a couple living together), you will have to pay this fee yourself. This is an estimate, and the actual cost of the care fee will depend on the real cost of your care. There are annual and lifetime caps that apply to the income-tested care fee, so you can’t be asked to pay more than the cap once you reach it.

Residential Care:

  • You can expect to pay a basic daily fee of $47.86 per day to cover living costs such as meals, laundry, and electricity. The basic fee for a full fortnight of residential care for one person is 85% of the single person rate of the Age Pension ($670.04 at the time of writing).
  • The government pays the means-tested care fee of around $54 per day if you have a low income, for a maximum of 63 days per financial year. You can get more respite care in lots of 21 days if an assessment finds that this extra time is necessary. If you have high enough income, you will have to pay this fee. This is an estimate, and the actual cost of the care fee will depend on the real cost of your care.
  • The government will pay for the accommodation payment to the aged care home of around $40 per day, for a maximum of 63 days per financial year. If you have high enough income, you will have to pay this fee.
  • Additional fees will apply if you choose to add extra services or a higher level of accommodation to your residential care package. The government will not pay these fees, as they are your choice and your responsibility.

What medical care needs are covered?

When you are receiving aged care at home or in a residential care setting, you can arrange services to provide for many of your medical needs.

Medicare will make sure that you can see a bulk-billing doctor for free whenever you need to.

If you are receiving subsidised aged care, you are probably also eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or the Health Care Card. These cards help you to cover the cost of PBS medicines and other medical services.

You can also benefit from having private health insurance if you can afford it, because it offers cover for many services not covered under Medicare. Some things that may be covered by health insurance extras cover but not by Medicare include:

  • Ambulance services: Some states and territories will pay for an ambulance trip if you have the card, but in other states and territories you either need to have health insurance or to pay for it out of your own pocket.
  • Physiotherapy
  • Optometrists and glasses
  • General dental
  • Podiatry services

Compare Health Insurance

Share this article