Residential Aged Care for Couples
Aged Care Residential Facilities
Residential aged care for couples can be tricky and expensive and usually you will be looking for your Mum and Dad. It can be hard to find 2 spots available at the same time or the rooms look too small for both members of a couple to live in. It is not unusual for a facility to advertise ‘couple rooms’ but what does this mean and what should you look out for? Here are 5 tips to help you on the journey. Just a note that this article is specific to Aged Care Residential Facilities (ACRF’s) which are facilities that are accredited and subsidised by the Federal Government. There are alternatives to ACRF’s for older couples. If you want to find out more about those, read our earlier article on Aged Care Housing Options.
5 tips for finding residential aged care for couples
- Each member of a couple needs to pay separately for their daily costs (comprised of basic daily fee, means tested care fee and any additional or extra fees that the facility is charging). This can be expensive as the daily charges are a minimum of around $17,750 per year currently. Whilst that might seem like a lot, apart from the extra or additional fees, the amounts are means tested and the minimum amount of around $17,750 is pegged at 85% of the full pension. When pensioners go into aged care, they are separately assessed for a single pension even if they are a couple and both going into care. This means that it is affordable but watch out for the extra or additional fees because they may make it unaffordable.
- Whilst moving into an ACRF might seem like severe downsizing, particularly for a couple, just remember that there are lots of common areas where the resident can enjoy space. Think of it as a shared house rather than just a room.
- ‘Couple rooms’ are usually shared rooms meaning a room with 2 beds, often separated with a curtain similar to a hospital ward. When one member of the couple passes away, the other bed in the room might be shared by someone else. Make sure you have discussed with the ACRF what will happen when one member of a couple passes away. Will the survivor move to another room and, if so, how much will that cost?
- Don’t assume that because a couple have been sleeping in the same room for the past 60 years that they want to continue to do so. Usually one member of a couple is less well than the other and has disturbed sleeping patterns which keeps the other partner awake. We were recently told by a very wise facility manager that in her experience, for most couples, at least one member of the couple is really happy to be able to spend the days with a spouse but sleep alone comforted by the fact that someone else is there to tend to the spouse overnight.
- Each member of a couple will have to pay a separate Accommodation Payment (bond or RAD) unless they are supported. How do aged care bonds work is covered in our post just follow the link. To find out whether or not a person is ‘supported’, see our earlier article on ‘How do you afford aged care if you are a pensioner with no assets‘. If they are supported, the timing of moving into aged care can be really important and it could be beneficial to move them in separately, even a day apart, to be able to access additional funding for one member of the couple.
If you need help, call us on 1800 744 676
Call 1800 744 676 for an obligation free chat with one of our expert consultants if you want to find out more.
Until next time
Sara and Margaret