What To Do If Someone In My Family Enters A Nursing Home?

  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Incorporation of rights into agreement
  • Fees and charges
  • Who can sign?

Assessment before and after entry

The Australian government provides at least some funding for most nursing homes. That is why it is necessary to have an assessment of care needs done by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) before it is possible to sign an agreement to go into high level or full care. ACAT people are attached to most major or regional hospitals and a report following a physical assessment must be available before admission to the nursing home.

Once a person is assessed it then becomes clear what is their level of need according to their disabilities. Subsequently the person who becomes a resident in the nursing home is assessed in a more detailed way according to a resident classification scale which confirms disability status and is relevant to the funding made available to the nursing home operator for each particular resident.

Fees and charges

The fees and charges which the resident is asked to pay however, is referable to their means, rather than their disabilities. Since the fees and charges are adjusted quarterly, for the most up to date details, please follow the link to the helpful information provided by the Department of Health and Ageing by clicking here.

Choosing a nursing home

There is no substitute for visiting the rooms and bathrooms, checking the menus and food , activities, availability of services such as physiotherapy, hairdressing, podiatry, talking to staff and residents, asking for references and talking to referees, and checking with the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency on its website by clicking here.

Signing an agreement

Each resident or their representative must be offered an agreement before entering the aged care facility. The Aged Care Act requires that an agreement contains several promises including:

  • a description of the residential care service, that is the name, address and other identifying features
  • the levels of care and services which the approved provider is capable of providing
  • the fee setting policies and practices of the provider
  • respite care arrangements
  • termination of residential rights and assistance which will be provided in that event
  • complaint resolution arrangements
  • resident’s responsibilities
  • the agreement must be in writing and signed by each party (or the residents representative
  • there is a ‘cooling off’ period of 14 days within which the care recipient or that person’s representative may withdraw in writing
  • there is a requirement for variation by mutual consent
  • the care recipient (or representative) ‘must be told of and helped to understand’ the terms of the agreement including rights and obligations, services, fees and other charges.
  • the agreement must treat the parties as equals
  • the agreement must provide for the care recipient’s right to occupy a place at the residential at the residential care service either for a stated period or the remainder of the person’s life time. The term ‘place’ is defined as ‘a capacity within an aged care service for provision of residential care (or community or flexible care) to an individual’. It is reasonably clear then, that it is not intended that the right to occupy be defined by a particular physical ‘place’ or location within the residential care service, although it may be. A contract may refer to ‘Room 4, bed A’ for example, but the Aged Care Act does not require it.

Resident’s representative

In the case where a resident may not be completely capable of looking after their affairs and negotiations with the Residential Care Facility, either upon entry or later, they may appoint a representative.

An approved provider is obliged to allow a representative to have access to the residential care service ‘at any time’ and access is not confined to the care recipient but extends to the whole of the premises. A representative may therefore be a person appointed to act in that capacity either formally or informally. They may act under a formal instrument such as a power of attorney or appointment of enduring guardian or informally by verbal or written request, either permanently or even on an ‘ad hoc’ or temporary or special basis or request. Such a person may also be appointed by a Supreme Court or tribunal such as a Guardianship Tribunal.

Some of the rights of the representative include:

    • the power to sign the residential care agreement
    • the poser to withdraw from it (in accordance with the Aged Care Act)

access at all times

  • obtaining information
  • making complaints
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