The idea of being assessed for aged care services that could improve your quality of life is understandably intimidating. You may be thinking:
What will they ask me? How do I prepare? What if I don’t qualify for my service of choice? I don’t want to do this alone…
The truth is there may be a wait time – at best 1-3 months – between being approved for a service and it actually commencing, so it’s always best to start the process as soon as possible.
It’s worth noting there are two avenues for assessment. The Regional Assessment Service (RAS), which caters for more entry level services and the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) for more complex needs functioning under the Home Care Packages (HCPs) and Residential Aged Care (RAC) programs.
This information focuses on the ACAT assessment.
Step 1 – Am I eligible?
Some signs you may be eligible for the assessment include being diagnosed with a medical condition, experiencing a change in your mobility or memory, or having had a recent hospital admission or fall.
Checking your eligibility is simple. Use My Aged Care’s Assessment Eligibility Checker online or call 1800 200 422 to speak to their staff.
If you’re eligible, you will be informed as to whether the ACAT is suitable and can then apply for assessment. Just have your Medicare card handy and be prepared to answer questions relating to your health and current situation.
Step 2 – Complete the ACAT assessment
If your application is successful, an assessor with be in touch to schedule an assessment that takes place in the comfort of your own home.
According to our Advocate Sue, you’ll be well-prepared for your assessment by having these handy:
- Your Medicare card and one other form of ID.
- A list with details of your GP and other health professionals you visit.
- A list of current medications.
- A list of specific health conditions you experience.
- Copies of any doctor referrals.
- A list of existing in-home supports e.g. cleaning assistance or meals on wheels.
- A list of any physical limitations you may have.
- Optional – a trusted family member, friend, advocate or care provider to support you during the assessment.
- Optional – Special assistance needed to communicate organised to be available for the day e.g. a translator.
Your assessor will work with you to create a support plan, and may also ask you to fill out an ‘Application for Care’ form.
This is a great time to ask any questions you may have, but just in case, ensure you get the assessor’s contact details so you can get in touch if anything else comes to mind.
Step 3 – My results and what’s next
If your assessment approves you for government-supported services, you’ll receive a support plan indicating the services you’re entitled to and the necessary steps for accessing them.
Even if you are not deemed eligible, you will still receive a support plan with suggestions for other care options.
Remember – it’s always a great idea to consider whether you’d like a trusted person by your side helping you navigate the assessment process. It can be a carer, family member, friend, advocate – which Advocare can assist with – or communication assistant for hearing impediments or translation. The aim is for you to be as comfortable as possible so you can be clear about your needs.
Some other tips from our Advocate, Taryn:
- The ACAT assessor will focus on what you can do as much as what you need help with.
- You will be assessed based on how you respond on the day, so carefully consider what tasks/activities you already share with someone else in the household. For example, if you say your spouse is doing the laundry you will not be offered that assistance.
- If your support network is planning on reducing or limiting their availability to help, make sure the assessor knows this. Lack of support increases the need for aged care services and can actually be a factor in being prioritised for services due. This is important, especially if you’re uncomfortable making constant requests for more help.
- Respond to questions from the assessor with the perspective of what it’s like for you on a bad day. For example:
- When you clean the house you find yourself unable to catch up with friends in the afternoon as your body aches.
- When you are too tired to go to the shops, you regularly live off leftovers and canned food.
- You felt a bit wobbly on your feet so you haven’t showered in 3 days.
Granted that’s a lot of information to process! If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the prospect, we’re here to help. Call one of our Advocates on 1800 655 566.
My Aged Care – www.myagedcare.gov.au
Help to stay at home advice for seniors – www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/help-stay-home-advice-seniors
OPAN Self-Advocacy ToolKit – opan.org.au/toolkit
Australian Government Department of Health & Aged Care – www.health.gov.au/topics/aged-care
Missed our other two articles on beginning your journey to receive aged care services?
5 Signs you could benefits from aged care services – https://www.advocare.org.au/news/5-signs-you-could-benefit-from-aged-care-services/
Understanding the differences between aged care services – https://www.advocare.org.au/news/understanding-the-differences-between-aged-care-services/
Other Advocare Newsbites articles:
What’s happening at Advocare? – Making tracks with the Regional Outreach Team
Health, safety and wellness for April 23 – Finance bootcamp, wellbeing quiz & get stronger with COTA’s program