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elderly couple during an ACAT assessment

What is a Home Care Package ACAT assessment?

When you start looking at home care packages and how they help elderly Australians, you may start wondering ‘What is an ACAT assessment?’. There is a lot to know about the purpose of an ACAT assessment, what it involves, how to organise one, and how you can prepare. Read on to find out everything you need to know about ACAT assessments.

What is an ACAT assessment?

An ACAT assessment is conducted by the Aged Care Assessment Team on eligible senior Australians to determine whether, and at what level and priority, senior Australians require subsidised aged care services.

This is a comprehensive assessment of a person’s situation, lifestyle, and health, to identify where they need help with daily tasks, and to recommend which services will meet those care needs. This assessment whether you are suitable to receive a home care package, or if a nursing home or retirement home is more suitable. During the COVID-19 pandemic, most ACAT assessments are conducted over the phone or through video.

Why do I need an ACAT assessment?

An ACAT assessment is required to gain a comprehensive understanding of your situation, lifestyle, and health. An ACAT assessment is required as home care package funds can only be used to meet a person’s genuine care needs. The result of your ACAT assessment will be a factor in your placement within the National Priority System. This is the first step in the process of getting a home care package.

What does an ACAT assessment involve?

An ACAT assessment involves a comprehensive assessment of your situation, lifestyle, and health, to determine your care needs. Your assessor will first ask you if you agree to have the assessment conducted, and will ask you to fill out an official application form.

Your assessor will then ask you a range of questions about your needs and day-to-day life. This will involve questions about:

  • What support services you already use
  • Your health, safety and lifestyle concerns
  • How much assistance you need with day-to-day tasks
  • If you have issues with your memory
  • Family, social, and community activities
  • Advice from your GP and health professionals

Your assessor will also give you advice about where you can begin accessing aged care services, and the potential costs of these services. They will also help you to develop a support plan which sets out which services will suit you, how you can regain confidence and independence with daily tasks, and whether options are available in your community or if you need to access aged care from service providers.

Questions to ask your ACAT assessor

Make sure you also have some questions prepared to ask your assessor. Make sure you get a full understanding of what services are available to help you in your unique situation. Some example questions are:

  • What services are available in my area?
  • What are the waiting times for these services?
  • What services will help me reach my lifestyle goals?
  • What services can my carer access?
  • What services meet my religious and cultural needs?

Who is eligible for an ACAT assessment?

To be eligible to receive subsidised aged care services, you must be:

  • 65 years or older
  • 50 years or older (for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people)
  • 50 years or older, and homeless, at risk of being homeless, or on a low income
  • 45 years or older, and homeless, at risk of being homeless, or on a low income (for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people)

You can check if you can receive services by using My Aged Care’s eligibility check, or apply for an assessment online if you are ready. If you are under 65 have a disability, dementia, or other specific care needs that cannot be met through available specialist services, then call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to discuss your specific situation and available options.

Is an ACAT assessment means tested?

If you can afford it, the Australian Government asks that you contribute to the cost of your care through an income tested fee. Whether or not you have to pay this fee is determined through an income assessment conducted by Services Australia. If you are already receiving a means-tested pension then you may not need to complete an income assessment, as Services Australia will already have the information required to determine if you must pay an income tested fee.

How do I organise an ACAT assessment?

The first step in organising an ACAT assessment is to complete an online application on My Aged Care. This involves a short questionnaire to gain an understanding of your care needs, which your ACAT assessor will use at the start of your ACAT assessment. You’ll also need to provide your Medicare and personal details, contact details, and arrange when the ACAT assessment will take place.

How do I prepare for an ACAT assessment?

To prepare for your ACAT assessment, organise any documents that help your assessor to gain an understanding of your situation, lifestyle, and health. Prepare for your ACAT assessment by arranging a copy of any referrals and contact information from your doctor or health professionals. You will also need to have your Medicare card and one other form of ID, such as driver’s license, healthcare card, passport, or DVA card.

You should also make sure you consider whether you would like anyone present during your ACAT assessment. A family member, friend, or carer can support you during your assessment. You can access free translation services at TIS National.

How long does an ACAT assessment take? How long is it valid?

An ACAT assessment usually takes 45 to 75 minutes to complete. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these assessments are usually conducted through phone or video. You will usually receive the result of this assessment within two to six weeks.

If you are determined as eligible for a home care package, you will be placed within the National Priority System and be allocated a Home Care Package once one becomes available. You can check an estimate of your waiting time to be allocated a home care package by logging into the My Aged Care client portal.

Once you have been allocated a home care package, you will receive a referral code that you can give to providers to start receiving subsidised aged care services. This code is valid for 56 days, after which it expires. If you require more time, you can request a 28-day extension by contacting My Aged Care on 1800 200 422

When should I get an ACAT assessment?

You should apply for an ACAT assessment as soon as possible by first applying for an assessment online. There can often be a long time between applying for an ACAT assessment and receiving a package, so you should not hesitate in starting the home care package process. Once your ACAT assessment has been completed, you can start comparing different home care package providers and deciding whether you want fully managed or self-managed home care.

Remember, not all providers are created equal, so make sure you know what questions to ask when choosing a provider. If you decide to embrance the cost saving benefits of self-management, you’ll need to know how to find your own carers.

If you have any other concerns, make sure to check out our frequently asked questions about home care packages or give Trilogy Care a call on 1300 459 190.

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Please contact Trilogy Care on 1300 459 190 for any further information.

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