Community Living – Residential Aged Care


Residential Aged Care


Sometimes the aged and frail may need to consider a move into residential care.


Evaluating whether this option is right includes asking questions such as:  

  • Can the senior take care of most of their personal needs, but would enjoy having meal, laundry and housecleaning services?
  • Would medication management, an emergency response system and ‘on premise’ nursing provide the family and the senior with more peace of mind?
  • Does the senior need assistance with bathing, grooming and dressing?
  • Are there any concerns about memory issues?


If you or a loved one may need this kind of assistance, seek an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to help you look at your choices.


Any move to a residential aged care home requires approval by an ACAT. The team will not only help arrange a place, but will assist in organising more services in the meantime if a suitable home is not immediately available.


There are two basic types of residential aged care – low-level and high-level residential aged care.

Low-level care homes (such as hostels) generally provide accommodation and personal care such as help with dressing and showering, together with occasional nursing in care.

High-Level care homes (such as nursing homes) provide care for people with a greater degree of frailty who often need continuous nursing care. While some aged care homes specialise in either low-level or high-level care, others offer both low-level and high-level care, which may allow you to stay in one location even if your care needs increase.


The ACAT members or representatives of the homes can tell you about the care and services each home provides and whether you can remain at that home as your care needs change.


Types of care offered

Whether low or high level, all residential aged care homes must employ qualified staff and a specified range of care and services according to each residents’ needs – at no additional cost.


Basic care provided to all residents who need them, no matter what level of care, includes:

  • Staff to help at all times, including in emergency situations;
  • Assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing and dressing;
  • Assistance with medications, meals and refreshments;
  • Basic furnishings;
  • A laundry service; and
  • Social activities.


In high-level care homes, the additional services provided, again at no additional cost and depending on the individual’s needs, include:

  • Continence aids;
  • Basic medical and pharmaceutical supplies; and
  • Nursing services and therapy services.


Extra Services

Some aged care residential homes provide Extra Services, including a higher standard of accommodation and increased entertainment and food choices at an additional cost to the resident. These ‘extra service’ homes receive approval from the federal government to offer these additional services for a higher daily care fee and accommodation bond.


Extra services should only refer to the standard of accommodation, meals, food and entertainment – not to the level of care which is legislated to be of a high standard across all aged care homes.


In some cases, the entire aged care home may be ‘extra service’, while in others a distinct part of that home, such as a separate building, wing or unit, is dedicated to ‘extra service’.


Some of the Extra Service features you might be offered include: a bigger room; phone and internet; satellite television; special therapies such as massage, aromatherapy and hydrotherapy; a selection of beverages, including wines, beer and spirits; and leisure/entertainment facilities.


The cost of living in aged care homes

While the federal government helps you with the cost of your residential care by providing funding to aged care homes, it also expects those who can afford it to contribute to the cost.


Aged care facilities may charge a number of fees and charges which you may or may not have to pay, depending on your circumstances. If you’re interested in a home that offers Extra Services, you should enquire about the services provided and the additional costs involved.


When you’ve been offered a place within an aged care home, you may arrange to visit before you move in to familiarise yourself with the home’s surroundings. Once you’ve agreed to accept a place, you have up to seven days to move into the aged care home.




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