Making the aged care journey smoother

When you’re exploring aged care options for a loved one, the process can seem overwhelming. Here’s how to make it a bit easier.

Choosing when to place an elderly relative into a retirement home may be one of the toughest decisions you have to make. And while you want your loved one to be as comfortable as possible in their final years, it’s also important to be financially prepared.

With so many choices available and so many decisions to make, it helps to break down the process into a series of steps. And remember, when the time comes to begin your own aged care journey, you’ll want to be ready – so the sooner you start planning, the better.

Step 1. Finding the right place

The first step is to have your loved one’s needs assessed to determine the right level of care – from semi-independent living to round-the-clock nursing. Free assessments are conducted by community- or hospital-based Aged Care Assessment Teams. You should also consider any additional services your relative might need in the future, so they won’t have to move again if their health declines.

If you can, visit different retirement facilities together to find an environment your loved one feels comfortable in. Be sure to investigate the social activities and meal options on offer, to ensure they’ll enjoy a happy and enriched life there.

Step 2. Calculating the costs

Although the federal government subsidises aged care costs, there are still various expenses that need be covered. For residential aged care, these include:

  • Accommodation fees. Prices are set by the facility but may also depend on your relative’s income and assets. Fees can be paid either as a lump sum or in regular instalments.
  • Basic daily care fee. This covers daily living costs and is fixed at 85% of the maximum single Age Pension – currently $50.66 per day.
  • Means-tested fee. This may be charged on top of your relative’s daily care fees, and is based on their assets and income. It’s currently capped at $27,232.33 a year.
  • Extra service fees. Additional fees may be charged for a more comfortable standard of accommodation, or special services like hairdressing or pay TV.

We can connect you with a Specialist, who can help you calculate all of these costs so you know exactly what to expect.

Step 3. Managing the paperwork

Because the fee amounts vary, you’ll need to lodge a Request for a combined assets and income assessment form with the Department of Human Services. This helps determine how much of a government subsidy your relative will receive towards the aged care costs.

Next, you can start applying directly to aged care facilities to find a suitable placement for your relative. A facility will contact you as soon as a slot becomes available, and they may also require you to enter into a Resident Agreement and Accommodation Agreement.

Step 4. What to do with the family home

Moving into aged care accommodation isn’t cheap, and many people who go into care need to sell their family home to cover the costs. This process can take many months, so you might also have to sort out a loan to manage the initial expenses while the property is on the market.

An alternative may be to rent out the property and use the rental income to help cover your aged care fees.

Your relative’s choice of whether to sell, or keep and rent out their former family home can have significant consequences for the aged care fees they pay, as well as any social security entitlements they receive, so contact us about the best option before taking any action.

Step 5. Making the move

Packing up an entire house or flat and moving into a single room of a retirement home requires a lot of work. As space will be limited, you’ll need to prioritise the most important or valuable items (including those with sentimental value) for your relative to take with them, and then sell or give away the rest.

There will also be other practicalities to deal with, such as changing their postal address and advising Centrelink about the move. Finally, make sure you include your loved one in as much of the decision-making as possible, to help make the transition as painless for them as you can.

Get the right advice

Before making any major decisions, it’s important to check in with Jason Cook, Financial Adviser. Jason can review your overall financial strategy to make sure you’re on track.

Jason Cook, Financial Adviser, WB Financial

Authorised Representative of Financial Wisdom Limited

Phone 07 3391 7199 or email


General Information. This content is not advice and provides information only. It does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should assess whether the information is appropriate for you and consider talking to Jason Cook, Financial Adviser, before making an investment decision. Presidio Financial Services Pty Ltd ABN 67 118 833 168 trading as WB Financial, its officers, employees, agents and associates believe in good faith that this information is correct at the time of compilation but do not warrant the accuracy or currency of the information and material. You should carefully check the date of compilation of the information and material (where relevant) to determine its accuracy. This market update has been prepared by Financial Wisdom Limited ABN 70 006 646 108, AFSL 231138, (Financial Wisdom) a wholly-owned, non-guaranteed subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. While care has been taken in the preparation of this information, no liability is accepted by Financial Wisdom, its related entities, agents and employees for any loss arising from reliance on this information.


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