ACAT decision

Hi, I had to do an intervention with my 81 year old mother who has rapidly declined in her dementia status. I brought her to my home in NSW from QLD to be able to get her into aged care close to me so i can visit. I have booked an ACAT but struggle with her as I need to work and call on friends to help supervise her (she is volatile, rarely rembers who I am and is a runner so o have lock all doors and gates). How long does it take to get the assessment? I also fear that the ACAT may decline recommendation to aged care facility. There is no possible way this situation can continue for us emotionally or financially. She has no assets and only income is the aged pension and is not mentally capable of making financial decisions or caring for herself.

Just to clarify my comments above. By “no assets” I mean the person does not own a family home to be assessed for the Income and Assets test by the Department Human Services. If a “protected person” remains living in the home such as a spouse, a carer eligible for an Australian Government income support payment for at least the last two years or a close relative who is eligible for an income support payment and has been living in the family home for 5 years then the home is considered an exempt asset under the Income and Assets test. If you keep the family home the value of that home for the purpose of the Income and Assets test will be capped at $169,079.20 (as at 20 September 2019) or the net market value if lower than the capped value. It will also be exempt from the Age Pension assets test for 2 years from the date you move into residential aged care. If you keep the family home and rent it out the rent will be included in the assets assessment. If you sell the family home then the full value of that will be used to determine the means tested fee. This may also impact on your age pension depending on your circumstances. Everyone’s financial situation is different. For this reason we strongly suggest using a specialist aged care financial adviser to ensure that you make the best financial decisions about how to pay for residential aged care.

Hi , I would like to add some additional information regarding the Income and Assets test. A property (your own home) owned by yourself is counted as an assets, so the value of that property severely changes future payments for accommodation.

Hi LuciB,
The government’s agency My Aged Care states that an ACAT can take up to 6 weeks to arrange depending on where you live and how many assessors are rostered for that area. An emergency ACAT can be organised within 48 hours evidently. However if you are really concerned about your mother’s “safety” I would ring them and see if the time frame can be shortened. An ACAT assesses a person’s physical, medical, psychological, social and cultural needs and then makes a recommendation as to what level of assistance they require to meet those needs. This can be either in the form of a Home Care package or Residential Aged care. I would advise that you or another family member attend the assessment so that you can ensure that all this information is relayed in full to get the best result for your mother. From the information you have provided it sounds as though your mother is showing signs of dementia which I would have thought would make her a likely candidate for residential aged care. The other alternative is a Home Care package but this may not be adequate from what you say. Also I believe there is a wait list of up to 12 months for levels 3 and 4 packages. Once the ACAT is completed your mother will have to submit an Income and Assets form to Department Human Services (DHS) which will clarify what government assistance she is eligible for with regards to residential aged care fees. I would do this as soon as practical as it also can take time to get the report. If your mother has an income below $27,460 and assets below $49,500 the Australian Government will pay her accommodation costs which means she will pay only the basic daily fee which is currently $51.63 per day or $18,844.95 per year which is 85% of the single rate of the Age Pension. This fee is paid directly to the aged care home generally on a fortnightly or monthly basis. This amount is indexed every March and September in line with the Age Pension. The government says that aged care homes should set aside some places for Low Means Aged Care supported residents but you may have to apply to a few to find the best accommodation for your mother. Given you say your mother is not capable of making decisions for herself then I assume that someone in the family has been nominated as her Enduring Guardian and Enduring Power of Attorney to ensure best interests are upheld when she can no longer do so.

Kind regards,