Preparing to Move into Residential Aged Care

Categories: Care

Sometimes a family member or a friend needs help suddenly – for example if they’ve had a stroke. Other times, it’s a gradual process as physical changes slowly make it harder for them to care for themselves at home. When this time comes it’s important to realise that you are not alone in helping your loved ones.

There are often signs that an aged care facility should be considered. These include:

  • Significant difficulties with mobility
  • Severe continence problems
  • Challenging behaviour
  • Sever communication problems
  • Difficulties in thinking, planning and remembering
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Sleeping & eating poorly
  • Poor hygiene/dirty living environment
  • Empty refrigerator or rotting food
  • Evidence of falls e.g. bruises or cuts

When you start to notice these signs then it is time to ask for help from aging specialists.

What are the options for aged care?

Homes for the aged are available across Australia for older people who can no longer live at home and there is a need to plan for long-term accommodation and care. This is known as ‘residential aged care’. Reasons can include illness, disability, bereavement, an emergency, the needs of their carer, family or friends, or because it is no longer possible to manage at home without help. Australia’s aged care system aims to ensure that all older people receive support and quality care when they need it.

There are two broad types of aged care - low level and high level. Low level care homes (formerly known as hostels) generally provide accommodation and personal care, such as help with dressing and showering, together with occasional nursing care. High level care homes (previously known as nursing homes) care for people with a greater degree of frailty, who often need continuous nursing care.

Aged care homes also cater for those who need short periods of care away from their home. This is known as respite care. If they need less care than that offered by aged care homes you may wish to consider independent living units or retirement villages. These residential communities offer a range of services for independent older people, and are regulated by State and Territory Governments.

What level of care is right?

If you need some help at home or are considering moving into an aged care home, you may first need a free assessment with a member of an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT)*. An ACAT will talk to you about your current situation and work out if you are eligible to receive government-subsidised aged care services. If you can receive aged care services, an ACAT assessment will help you access the right services for your needs and the level of care you require. This might be low-level or high-level care, but your ACAT can explain these to you. The assessment can help identify the type of care services to help you to stay at home. It can also provide you with eligibility for care in an aged care home. Remember, your wishes are always listened to and considered, and you will never be forced to make any decisions about your future during your assessment. The assessment is an opportunity to identify options and you can make a decision once you have received the outcome of your assessment. You are also welcome to have someone else – perhaps a friend, family member or your carer – attend your assessment with you for extra support. You can find your local ACAT by calling 1800 200 422 or searching the locator here

*Note: An Aged Care Assessment Team is referred to as an Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) in Victoria. Where the information on this web page refers to an ACAT, it intends the Victorian term ACAS to be interchangeable.

How to prepare for the discussion...

If your family member or friend is not open to the idea of receiving help then it is a good idea to contact ACAT for a general discussion on how to go about preparing them. You can also speak to your family doctor and if you have an Aged Care facility in mind you could even approach the manager to discuss the best way to prepare them.

Aged Care Home Finder

Once the level of care you need is assessed and approved by your local Aged Care Assessment Team you have the right to apply to aged care homes of your choice that meet your needs and preferences. Aged care homes receive funding from the Australian Government. Aged care services in Australia are operated by religious, charitable and community organisations, private businesses and state/territory and local governments.

What happens when an Aged Care Facility is not the right option?

For many people, living in the comfort of their own home is an important part of growing older, but for some older people this may become difficult without extra help. This is where “in-home help” and community care services come into the picture – providing help with everything from housework, shopping and preparing meals and personal care, to assistance getting out and about for social activities and doctors appointment. There are a whole range of services that can be provided for seniors in their own homes.

Moving into an aged care facility can be a challenging time for the new resident, their family and loved ones. Having additional support at this time, from a caring professional or friends and family who understand your situation, can make all the difference and help ease the transition to residential care, for all concerned. Make sure that as the carer of your loved one that you take advantage of all the support, services and facilities that are available. 


Danielle Robertson is the CEO of DIAL-AN-ANGEL. Established in 1967 it is the only national agency specialising in the provision of aged, home and child care. The agency provides Angels for housekeeping & home cleaning, gardening & home maintenancenannying and babysittingsupervised contact visits, party helpaged carein-home nursingdementiapalliative and disability care in the home. A wide range of services are available to businesses such as medico legal reportingemployee work-life flexibility programstrade promotions for competitions and emergency care programs for children and seniors.

As a national company, we have offices around Australia in AdelaideBrisbaneCanberraCentral CoastMelbourneNewcastlePerth and Sydney. For further information call 1300 721 111 or email