While the best things in life may (apparently) be free, in most cases services that are provided to you are not.
However, when it comes to aged care, it’s a little different. We truly live in a very lucky country where some aged care services are subsidised by the Australian government – meaning they are free or very low cost to us. While not everything is free, you might be surprised to find out what aged care services you won’t have to pay for. Such as these …
Aged care assessments
Before you can access any aged care services, you will need to be assessed on your eligibility for certain types of care, such as in an aged care home, or in your own home. You will need to make an initial call to My Aged Care, during which you will be questioned about your current circumstances and needs. If your care needs show that you might be eligible for care, you will be referred for a free assessment by a member of your local Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) if you live in Victoria.
During this free assessment, you will be assessed in your home by a specially trained assessor, who will talk to you about your current situation. Your assessor will then make a formal decision about your care needs and the level of care you require.
As well, you will receive a free income and assets assessment to determine your eligibility for government assistance, and whether you need to pay a means-tested care fee (covering the care you receive in an aged care home).
The Aged Care Homes Fee Estimator
This handy tool will help you estimate the likely costs you will have to pay when applying for a Home Care Package or a place in an aged care home. Access it for free here.
Residential aged care services for those with low income and assets
To ensure that aged care is within reach of all Australians, the Australian Government subsidises aged care to the tune of around $65,000 each year for each permanent aged care home resident. For most people however, this doesn’t mean that you will be able to move into a residential aged care setting for free. If you can afford to do so and you are eligible, you are expected to contribute something toward the cost of your aged care.
How much you will need to contribute will depend on your financial assessment, however. If your income and assets are below a certain amount, the Australian Government will pay your accommodation costs for your aged care home placement; plus you won’t have to pay the means-tested care fee (as this only applies if you have income and assets over a certain amount).
Home Care Packages
If you are approved to receive care in your home, the Australian Government may provide you with a Home Care Package of care and services to be administered in your own home. These packages are funded by the Government, and there are four levels of Home Care Package to meet different care and support needs. Each level package receives a different amount of funding, and these funds are paid directly to an approved provider to administer on your behalf. You may be able to contribute to your package budget yourself as well, by paying a basic daily fee.
The National Aged Care Advocacy Line
Here, you can get free, independent and confidential advocacy assistance and support from this helpline. Advocacy Services can advise you on your rights and responsibilities when accessing aged care services, and can help you access government-funded aged care services – all at no cost to you. The National Aged Care Advocacy Line can be accessed on 1800 700 600.
The DHS Financial Information Service
In a similar vein, this free, confidential helpline provides basic information about managing your finances. Call this line on 132 300 and say “financial information service” when prompted.
Aged care services for veterans
If you are a veteran, you will be able to access many aged care services at no cost to yourself. Eligible former POWs (prisoners of war) and VC (Victoria Cross) recipients are exempt from paying the means-tested care fee for aged care facilities. As well the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) will pay the basic, daily fee covering the living costs at an aged care home for eligible former POWs and VC recipients.
You can read more about the help that’s available for veterans here.
The Aged Pension and Disability Support Pension
The Aged Pension will be paid to anyone over a certain age meeting the eligibility criteria, and the Disability Support Pension will be paid to those with a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that stops you from working.
So, if you’re starting out on your aged care journey, these are some of the aged care services you can access at no (or sometimes minimal) cost to yourself. Of course, not everything is free and many other aged care services do come at a cost. You can find out about the cost of aged care in this handy article.