Considering Residential care

Organising Residential Care

Where to begin

You can discuss the changing needs of the person with dementia as well as the health and well-being of family members and carers with your GP.

The process of considering residential care can bring up many conflicting feelings in you including stress, sadness, relief, loneliness and guilt. You may have concerns about the quality of care available. There may be conflict within the family about placing the person with dementia in residential care. Dementia Australia offers advisory and counselling services that can help you during this process.

For information and support click here to email a counsellor at Dementia Australia or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

Assessment for residential care

The Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) in Victoria (ACAT in other states) must assess a person before they can enter a government funded residential care facility. The assessment is free of charge and is normally conducted in your home (or hospital) with family members, carers or close friends. Non-government funded residential care homes don’t usually require an assessment.


  • determines the level of care required by the person with dementia
  • recommends appropriate types of residential care
  • provides details of facilities which may be suitable
  • provides a written statement of eligibility for service to show residential care facilities.

The GP can refer the person with dementia to the service or the service can be contacted directly by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or visit

Privately owned and funded supported residential care services offer accommodation and some personal assistance. An ACAS assessment is not required although the service can provide information about local supported residential services.

Choosing a care home

It’s advisable to visit at least three facilities to get an overall impression of how well they can meet the needs of the person with dementia now and as the condition progresses. When you are visiting, take a check list of what is important to the person with dementia, family and carers.

A useful resource to take with you is Choosing a care home: the 7 signposts of person-centred care developed by Bupa Care Services in collaboration with the Dementia Australia Consumer Dementia Research Network. Call BUPA on 1300 302 305 or download a copy.

Things to look for:

  • location (i.e. close to you and or other family and friends)
  • easily accessible by public transport and car
  • welcoming and informative staff
  • staff interactions with the residents and family
  • 24-hour care under a registered nurse
  • care staff with appropriate dementia training
  • appropriate overnight staffing levels
  • a clean and homely environment: people with dementia respond well to home-like facilities
  • respect for privacy and personal space
  • comfortable bedrooms with personal belongings
  • pets welcome to visit
  • ambiance of communal areas and garden
  • a dementia-friendly environment e.g. clear signs and paths to toilets
  • good quality, varied meals in suitable dining facilities
  • consultation on food preferences and dietary requirements
  • family are welcome to stay for meals
  • the person’s individual cultural and spiritual beliefs, social and emotional needs are met
  • family and friends can still play a caring role
  • social and recreational activities appropriate for people with dementia
  • outings and special events
  • provision of additional services such as hairdressing, podiatry, dental, physiotherapy
  • provision of appropriate medical care, can keep own GP
  • visitors can visit with ease
  • a residents’ and relatives’ committee

A full list of aged care homes in Victoria are listed in the DPS Guide to Aged Care, call 1300 186 688 or visit

Search for aged care homes in your area using My Aged Care, Aged Care Homes Finders at or call 1800 200 422

Fees and charges


While the Australian Government funds residential facilities to assist with the cost of residential care, most residents will be expected to contribute to the costs. The amount of contribution depends on the person’s individual financial circumstances and can vary between facilities. No one will be excluded from care if they cannot afford it.For those entering a facility from 1 July 2014, fees and charges may include:

  • a basic daily fee
  • a means tested care fee
  • an accommodation payment
  • fees for extra or optional services
  • visit My Aged Care for more details

Fees are based on an assessment of income and assets by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (Phone 132 300).

My Aged Care is an Australian Government service which can provide information on organising residential care and can help estimate bonds and fees with a Residential Care Fee Estimator or call 1800 200 422 or visit

It is important to get independent advice from a financial specialist in aged care or an accountant.

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Applications can be made to more than one residential care facility at a time. The facility must keep applications private.

There may be waiting lists for places in residential facilities but you can ask to be placed on a waiting list.

Placement agencies can provide assistance to find an appropriate facility or even manage the whole process for a fee (DPS Guide: Placement Consultants listing:


Before moving in, the facility will offer a Resident Agreement covering services, fees, and rights and responsibilities, including when a person might be asked to leave the facility. It’s important to understand everything before an agreement is signed.

Waiting for a place in a residential care facility

When someone applies to move into a residential aged care facility it is not uncommon to be placed on a waiting list. This can give you some time to consider if the time is right for the move. If you or your loved one needs to move in urgently, let the facility know.

It’s a good idea to stay in regular contact with the facility while you or your loved one is on the wait list as this lets the facility know that you are still interested in moving in and ready to do so.

There’s a vacancy, what now?

Generally, when a vacancy becomes available you or your loved one can expect a call from the facility to advise you that a place is available. They will ask if you are still interested in moving in and when you may be able to do this.

Once it has been agreed that a place has been accepted at the facility, you or your loved one will be asked to move in as soon as possible and arrangements to do so will need to be made.

Generally, you and/or your loved one will be given seven days to complete the move into the facility..

Charges for the care may be levied from the date of acceptance of a place.

The Australian Government will give you financial assistance from the date of acceptance.

Get in touch the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to advise them which facility has been chosen to move into.

Moving into one care facility doesn’t mean that you or your loved one has to stay there indefinitely. It is possible to move from one facility to another.

For further detail please visit:

Getting assessed and moving in


Before moving into a care facility staff will gather information about the person who is due to move in. The information gathered can include personal preferences, interests, life and family history, medical conditions, food likes and dislikes as well as social and activity preferences.

A care plan will then be drafted. This is a good time to let staff know as much as you can about you and or your loved one, as this helps the care facility provide the best care that they can.

Moving in…

Some things to consider when preparing to move into a facility include:.

  • Putting labels on all personal belongings.
  • Considering what personal items and furniture will go into the room at the facility
  • Having a pharmacist or GP review all medications and passing on these details to staff
  • When the person goes into residential care packages of care cease, including the Carer Allowance from Centrelink.

Family, friends and carers are still an important part of the life of the person with dementia and at times the move into care can improve family relationships.

At Dementia Australia we know that supporting someone to move into care can be challenging and confusing. We can support you through that process and with adjusting to the change in your caring role. To access this information and support click here to email a counsellor at Dementia Australia or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

If you are concerned about the care or service you or your loved one is receiving in a care facility, you can contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1800 951 822 or via the website at

Advice, support and services

Dementia Australia provides counselling and support to carers of people with dementia in residential care. For information and support click here (link to Enter your details page) to email a counsellor at Dementia Australia or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

The Carer Advisory and Counselling Service provides carers with information and advice about their role and entitlements. 1800 242 636 or visit


ACAS Aged Care Information Line on 1800 500 853 or visit

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission 1800 951 822

BUPA 1300 302 305 or visit

Carer Advisory and Counselling Service 1800 242 636 or visit

Centrelink 132 300

My Aged Care 1800 200 422 or visit

National Disability Insurance Scheme 1800 800 110 or visit