My Aged Care – a how to guide

Are you or the person you care for over 65 years of age and needing more help to manage at home? My Aged Care is the Australian Government’s starting point on your aged care journey. If you are not yet registered with My Aged Care, it is a good idea to plan ahead and start a referral for an assessment. An assessment is required to get help in the home, for short term respite care or for entry into an aged care home.

Apply for an assessment: You can apply online or call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. The online application is quick and easy and can be done at www.myagedcare.gov.au – you will need the Medicare card for the person who needs the assessment. The online application takes at least 10 minutes and asks questions about health, managing at home and supports currently being received. A family carer can apply online or over the phone, for the person they care for, with their permission. Carers can be appointed as a ‘representative’ with My Aged Care. This can be set up at the same time as the application for an assessment. A representative can talk to and give information to My Aged Care on behalf of the person being cared for, as well as receive letters and phone calls.

Prepare for an assessment: There are two types of assessment that work out care needs and what types of support you may be eligible for. A home support assessment with the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) will be done for low level support to stay at home. This support is provided through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. A comprehensive assessment with an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) is for people who have greater care needs such as Home Care Packages, short term care, residential respite, Transition Care and aged care homes. Both are face-to-face assessments done in the home. There is no cost for either assessment.

After the assessment: Once you or your loved one have had a face-to-face assessment to discuss possible services to assist you, you will receive a letter summarising the outcomes of the home assessment. If you are eligible for a home care package, the letter will include the level of package you are eligible for (levels 1, 2 3 or 4). This is a confirmation ONLY as packages are in high demand and there is usually a wait time based on date of the assessment and priority of need.

While waiting for a package there are some things you can do – look up local providers, compare costs involved for these providers, contact and / or visit a few providers. About 3 months prior to a package being available you will receive a letter from My Aged Care advising you that a package will soon be offered. Now is the time to choose your preferred provider and contact them to enquire about availability in the next few months.

You will then receive a second letter from My Aged Care when a package is ready for you. This letter will contain a Referral Code. Give this code number to your chosen provider, they will then know what level of package they can offer.

You have 56 days from the date of your second letter to enter into a Home Care Agreement with a provider. If you don’t, the package will expire and be offered to the next person on the national waiting list. If you are not ready for a package yet, simply call My Aged Care and let them know. Your place in the national queue is based on the original date of assessment and can be re-activated at any time by contacting My Aged Care again. You can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and from 10am to 2pm on Saturdays.