Tag: aged care costs

I think it’s time mum or dad got some help

Welcome to 2017.  Many of us will have seen our parents over the summer break and noticed that things don’t seem to be going that well at home for them any more.  Maybe it is time to start looking for help.

Your parents may have been coping on their own for many years, but you might have noticed  some things recently that make you worry. Their increasing forgetfulness, the state of their home or their frailty may be starting to worry you.  If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to start thinking and talking about aged care.

This is a big decision in your mum or dad’s life, so it’s important you start talking to them about their options as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may find you need to make the decision in a rush after an adverse health event and that means they will probably have to compromise.

Your parents may be able to cope better with help at home and that can often be enough to give the family peace of mind and help parents come to terms with getting older and needing help.  They might be considering moving into a smaller home and are thinking of a retirement village or an aged care facility.

The transition to aged care isn’t straightforward.  Understanding the options and knowing where to start is often confusing and difficult.

That’s where Signpost comes in.  We can help you understand the options so you can make an informed choice and we can manage the whole transition for you including helping you to select the best provider,  negotiating the terms with the provider and doing the paperwork.

So if you’re contemplating aged care for a loved one and don’t know where to start – don’t delay. Call us today on 1800 744 676 for an obligation-free chat on how we can assist you and your family to get the best aged care outcome.


Until next time,

Sara and Margaret



Aged care for DVA cardholders

What are the aged care benefits for DVA card holders?

There are advantages in aged care for DVA cardholders.

Home Care

If you hold a gold card or a white card, you may be entitled to help at home including domestic assistance such as cleaning or gardening or personal care  including showering and dressing.  Recognising the important role that carer’s play in providing support to veterans, DVA also provides respite services to carers to give them a break.  Respite services can be in the home or in residential care. A cardholder or carer must be assessed as eligible for these services by the VHC Assessment Agency which can be contacted on 1300 550 450 (landline only).  A cardholder may be charged a small copayment for these services (other than respite).  Further information about these services is available here: http://www.dva.gov.au/health-and-wellbeing/home-and-care/aged-and-community-care

Whilst an individual might also be eligible for a Commonwealth Home Care Package or Commonwealth Home Support Package, the benefits and services through DVA are usually more generous and less costly.  You cannot have more than one service at a time so we usually recommend DVA services in preference to the other Commonwealth packages to DVA gold or white card holders.

Residential care

In relation to permanent residential care in an Aged Care Residential facility (nursing home or hostel), there is no difference to accessing or paying for that care whether or not you are a DVA cardholder.  You must still have an ACAT (or ACAS) assessment.  Some facilities may preferentially admit veterans.  If you receive a DVA pension, DVA will process the means tested form instead of Centrelink and a war widow’s pension is excluded form the means test for aged care fees.

If you require assistance understanding or accessing DVA or other aged care services, we can help.  Call us on 1800 744 676 or email us at info@signpostlms.com.au.

Until next time

Margaret and Sara



How to negotiate aged care costs

Negotiating aged care costs

Did you know that some aged care costs, particularly the Accommodation Payment (or bond or RAD as it is commonly known) are negotiable?  The price quoted by the aged care facility is often the maximum amount that the facility can charge.  If you want find out what that maximum amount is, the price is listed on the myagedcare.gov.au website.  Once you know that price, you can negotiate with the facility to see if they will accept less than the listed price.


residential aged care

Unhappy about aged care costs? Negotiate them.

Aged Care Housing Options Vary

A facility’s willingness to negotiate is often a function of supply and demand.   If the facility has a long waiting list of people who are willing to pay the asking price, they may not negotiate on the price.  But if the facility has a number of beds available, they are usually more willing to accept a lower price.  Negotiating is just a matter of asking the simple question ‘Are you willing to negotiate the Accommodation Payment?’ (or RAD as it is often called).

Sometimes, facilities also charge an additional service fee which can range from $5 a day to more than $100 per day.  These additional services often include things like daily newspapers, wine with meals, a choice of meals or podiatry or hairdressing services.  Facilities may also be willing to negotiate those additional services.  Again, it is just a question of asking. Then again there are all the different aged care housing options to consider.

Supported beds for those who cannot afford aged care

If you think you cannot afford aged care, you may be entitled to a ‘supported’ bed. In this case, the government pays a contribution towards the Accommodation cost. This often occurs when a spouse will be remaining in the marital home and the couple’s assets combined are less than about $300,000.   It is worth checking whether you are eligible for a supported bed before you start looking at aged care.  Whilst it does not mean you won’t be able to move into a fabulous facility, it is it a little harder to find a supported bed.

Negotiating home care packages

Home care provided under a federally funded aged care package (known as a Home Care Package) is also negotiable – both on price and the services that you receive. Whilst many people just engage the provider who first makes contact with the person receiving the package (or their loved one), it is worth shopping around for the best deal. The list of providers in your area is published on myagedcare.gov.au under the ‘Find a Service’ tab.

It is always worth obtaining financial advice from an aged care specialist financial adviser about the costs of aged care. If you need any help understanding or negotiating the costs of aged care, call 1800 744 676 and speak to one of our consultants.  You can also read our earlier articles which explain aged care costs simply here:

  1. Aged care fees;
  2. Extra service fees and additional services fees in aged care explained.

Until next time

Sara and Margaret

Aged Care fees and charges explained simply.

Since the Living Longer Living Better changes to aged care fees and charges came into effect on 1 July 2014, the costs of aged care have become very complicated and confusing. It is easy to find information about the costs of residential aged care by just doing a google search or going on to the myagedcare.gov.au website. To save you that trouble, in summary, there are 4 components to the costs and those components are:

1. daily care fees which every resident pays. These are pegged at 85% of the full aged pension, currently $47.86 per day and revised every March and September;
2. means tested care fee which, as the name suggests, are calculated using a very complicated formula on the resident’s income and assets. The formula is not only complicated because of the convoluted definitions of the various elements of the formula but also because of the rules around what is included and excluded from each of the elements of the formula;
3. extra services or additional services fees which some facilities (but not all facilities) charge. These fees have no bearing on the care provided; they are just extra services such as wine with meals or podiatry or other items that can usually be purchased independently of the facility. If you are considering a facility with these charges, you should ask what the resident gets for those charges and work out whether you think it is worth the cost;
4. Accommodation Payment (what used to be called the bond). This can be paid to the facility in whole or in part as either cash which is called a Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) or as a Daily Accommodation Payment (DAP). The DAP is calculated as an interest payment on the amount of Accommodation Payment that is not paid as a RAD. The interest rate is fixed by the Government, currently 6.14% per annum, and paid on any part of the Accommodation Payment that is not paid as a RAD for each day in care. The RAD is guaranteed by the federal government and refunded when the resident leaves the facility.
You pay some or all of these charges, depending on the resident’s means and whether the facility charges extra services or additional services fees. The aged care residential facility, in conjunction with Centrelink, will work out the payments for you if you want them to or if you do not take control. Residents will most likely but not always need to complete the Centrelink assessment form and aged care residential facilities now often hand them out during a tour of the facility and want them filled out before the resident is admitted. However, it is not their job to optimise these costs. There are numerous ways to ensure that you are not paying more than you should for aged care and every situation is different. It is nigh impossible to work out how to do it unless you are a aged care specialist financial adviser. Pensions can be affected by the way that aged care is funded and paid for and the way the resident organises the funding of aged care can be to the financial detriment of the resident. We commonly recommend to our clients that they seek advice from a financial adviser who specialises in aged care. Nearly all of our clients who have been referred to an appropriate adviser have in some way redeemed the cost of the session from the advice they have received.

So, if you do not already have a financial planner, given the current bad press around financial planning, how do you choose the right one? As aged care is seen as a growing source of revenue, a lot of planners will tell you they have the requisite knowledge when they do not. Here are some tips (although not foolproof):

– you can google ‘aged care financial advice’;
– screen the results for those who, on their website, focus on financial planning for aged care;
– ring around those firms and find out the cost of the advice. The cost varies from around $500 to over $3,000. Cost does not indicate quality. The cost is generally a function of the manner in which they deliver the advice; and
– choose one that charges a fixed fee for that advice.
Or you can call us to help you select the right financial planner.

Until next time.

Sara and Margaret


The Future of Aged Care Places

Aged Care Places in Australia from 2015 to 2025

Future aged care places or placement availability is being questioned. In an article that I read this week called “Aged care ‘winners and losers’ in 2015” highlighted some startling facts that are emerging with the federal government changes to aged care.  The author predicts that within the next 10 years the number of not for profit aged care places offered will halve from 60% to 30%.  The church and charity providers will find it hard to compete with more providers being publicly listed and raising new capital that will be pumped in to the aged care sector.  As described by Dr Judd (CEO Hammond Care NSW) “increased competition in aged care will mean only providers who offer exceptional quality, a differentiated product or who compete well on price will survive. We are already seeing a change in the environment with a huge growth among the big players and private operators.”

Transfer from Public to Private Nursing Homes

So what will this mean for our elderly population? At the moment in Victoria we are seeing the sale of publicly owned nursing homes to private enterprise and the acquisition of aged care facilities by a selected group of large aged care providers. Will this shift mean that the altruistic and social goals of the majority of providers will be lost?  We hope not.

What Aged Care Service Do Consumers Want

Consumers of aged care services  are looking for good physical and mental care, social inclusion and a place of residence that offers peace of mind. That can be done even with profit in mind.   We hope the industry will retain a social conscious and ensure a percentage of supported or discounted beds, which are advertised as available to those with low means, are offered within aged care facilities so everyone can be content and well cared for as they age.

Until next week

Sara and Margaret