Entering Residential Aged Care

Entering Residential Aged Care

You, or someone you care about, may be considering moving into an aged care home. If so, you may have questions about the process. It is important to understand that residential aged care is both a place to live and a place to die. The average age of residents is 85 years and length of stay two and a half years. [1] Many residents have high care needs and death is the most common reason for leaving. You and your family need to prepare for the likelihood of death.

MyAgedCare has information about entering residential aged care including costs and what you can expect help with:

  • day-to-day tasks like cleaning, cooking, and your laundry
  • personal care including bathing, dressing, eating, and taking your medications
  • clinical care under the supervision of a registered nurse.

Finding the right place

My Aged Care has detailed information about finding a home that can meet your care needs, now and into the future. This includes information on how to find the right place, applying for entry and the financial processes. If you are entering an aged care home from a hospital admission, the hospital team will support you in finding a place. When thinking about the right place for you, the list of 10 key questions to ask about staffing from the Australian Aged Care quality and Safety Commission is useful.

If you have a life-limiting illness and/or palliative care needs it is important to ask what support the facility offers. This might be for now or in the future.

Moving in

Once you have been offered a place in an aged care home, you can start preparing to move. The Aged Care website has information on managing the move to aged care. While the aged care home will have the furniture and furnishings, bringing some of your personal items can help make the space feel more like your home. So, talk to the staff about what you can bring.

During the admission process, staff will discuss financial matters. This will be with you or with a nominated person. Residential aged care is often subsidised by the federal government and contributions to payment are also required from residents.

Costs for an aged care home involve:

  • a basic daily fee, or
  • a basic daily fee and accommodation costs, or
  • a basic daily fee and a means-tested care fee and accommodation cost.

The facility may receive funding from the government based on the level of care you need. This is assessed with the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) and helps to reduce the amount you pay.

You may have questions about what will happen to bonds or prepaid care fees, after the death. You may feel uncomfortable asking about this. If you are the next of kin, or person financially responsible, the office staff will understand your need to know. They will be happy to explain their policies. All aged care homes have procedures for refunding payments, in line with government regulations.

Planning care that is right for you

Often when you move in the residential aged care staff will talk to you about your personal preferences and needs. This helps them to support you to live life the best you can and based on what matters to you. It can help if you have thought about this before the moving day. Palliative Care Australia has a useful booklet to help you record this information for yourself.

At this time, many facilities will also talk to you about your health preferences for the future, particularly around treatment during a serious illness. This is Advance care planning (ACP). It helps to ensure that you can still have the treatment you want if you can no longer take part in decisions about your health. Talking to your family or friends about this can be reassuring. Your plan should be updated regularly and whenever you want to make changes.

Planned palliative care

If you plan to enter Residential aged care to receive planned palliative care then you must be eligible for residential aged care and have palliative care status. The department of health has a useful information sheet on what this means and what you will need to think about.

There is also an information sheet for medical practitioners and nurse practitioners. This outlines there role and responsibilities including how to conduct an assessment for palliative care status.

Useful Tip

Making arrangements with a senior nurse / manager beforehand is the best way of ensuring your wishes are known.

Page last updated 05 August 2022


  • Reference

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  1. Gibson D. Who uses residential aged care now, how has it changed and what does it mean for the future? Aust Health Rev. 2020 Dec;44(6):820-828. doi: 10.1071/AH20040.