Residential Care (Nursing Homes)

What is Residential Care?

Residential Care facilities are operated throughout Australia. Organisations that operate these facilities in most cases fall into the category of ‘Not for Profit’ or ‘For Profit’, although several facilities are run by State Governments. 

Residential Care provides 24 hour care for its residents, with the care provided by a mix of Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses and Carers.

The accommodation in the facilities we recommend, in most cases consists of a single room with an ensuite, although there are some two person share rooms, and couples rooms.

 All meals are provided and there are numerous activities that residents may participate in. 

How do I qualify to enter Residential Care?

Approval to enter Residential Care is provided by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).  To request an ACAT Assessment you will need to contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

When Residential Care is required, you will usually receive approval for both permanent and respite (High or Low) care.  You are required to have this approval in place prior to you lodging an application with a Residential Care facility.

To qualify for Residential Care, you will need to have health diagnoses that mean you require assistance with your personal care, eg; assistance with mobility or with showering & dressing. Residential Care is not usually appropriate for people who are able to manage their personal care needs independently, but have difficulty with household tasks, eg; house cleaning, cooking, laundry.

People with cognitive health diagnoses eg; Dementia, may also qualify for entry into Residential Care. Often facilities will have a Memory Support Unit which is suitable for these people.

When is the right time to access Residential Care?

If you have health issues and are finding it difficult to continue living independently, or if your spouse becomes your carer, it is important to access help sooner rather than later. Initially, accessing In Home Care is likely to increase the length of time you can manage to continue living independently, and can also reduce the risk of your spouse suffering from carer’s stress, which can impact negatively on their health.

However, if the level of In Home Care is insufficient or if your spouse is beginning to suffer carer’s stress, it may be the right time to move into Residential Care. Declining physical or cognitive health are indicators that a move into Residential Care is the appropriate course of action, and indicators include;

  • Increased care needs, as a result of incontinence, poor mobility, chronic health issues, memory loss, depression & anxiety

  • Isolation and being at risk, eg; mishandling of electrical appliances, unable to adapt to weather extremes

  • Frequent falls

  • Inability to access an adequate level of In Home Care

  • Spouse showing effect of carer’s stress

  • A sudden health crisis, such as a fractured hip or a stroke

The key message is that by acting sooner rather than later, it is likely you will have more choice with your selection of facility. Unfortunately, many people wait until a health crisis occurs, which may result in a hospital admission, meaning the choice of facility is limited. For a couple, it may also mean that your spouse is able to assist you with settling in to the facility, which should make things much easier than deferring action and risk having to do this alone.

What are the costs of Residential Care?

The costs of Residential Care will depend on your financial situation. There are asset and income thresholds in place, below which you may not have to pay either a Means Tested Fee or an Accommodation Cost. If you are a couple, while your spouse is still residing in your family home, it will be excluded from your assessable assets.


The three fees payable are; 

Basic Daily Care Fee

This fee is payable by all residents, irrespective of their financial status, and is equivalent to approximately 85% of the amount of the full pension. It is reviewed during March and September half yearly and is usually adjusted in line with the increase in the Age Pension.

Means Tested Fee

This fee has both an Asset and Income component and will only be payable if you exceed certain thresholds. This fee is assessed at the time that you enter Residential Care and is reviewed quarterly or when there is a change in your financial circumstances. Annual and lifetime caps apply to this fee.

Accommodation Cost

This is the cost of the room, and unlike the Basic Daily Care Fee and the Means Tested Fee, will vary between facilities, and even between different rooms in the same facility.


There are three options for payment of this fee;

Refundable Accommodation Deposit (R.A.D.)

This fee is a lump sum payment for the full amount of the Accommodation Cost, and is payable within 6 months of being admitted into Residential Care. This amount is fully refundable when you vacate the facility.

Daily Accommodation Payment (D.A.P.)

This fee is the Accommodation Cost converted to a daily payment at an interest rate set by the Government. The D.A.P is paid while you are in Residential Care, and is non refundable.

Combination of R.A.D. and D.A.P.

If you don’t have sufficient funds to pay the full amount of the Accommodation Cost, you may elect to pay a part R.A.D. and the balance by a part D.A.P. If you request the D.A.P to be deducted from the R.A.D., the amount of the R.A.D. refunded when you vacate the facility will be reduced by the amount of the D.A.P. deducted.

Some facilities will also charge an Extra Services Fee which is a set daily charge and will vary between facilities. The Extra Services Fee may include things such as; having a larger room, internet access, wine with meals, happy hour, newspaper, pay TV, concierge service etc.


How do I find the right facility for me? 

Age Care Directions can guide you through the process. We recommend facilities near your preferred location, with our focus being on the quality of care provided. Using our knowledge and experience, we have assisted hundreds of families achieve successful outcomes with Residential Care placement. And, while we facilitate your placement, the final choice of facility will always be yours.


For assistance with accessing Residential Care

Get in touch with us today if you would like to find out more