If you’re not sure of what an ACAT assessment is and how to prepare for the best possible outcome, this article will help take you through the process.

Even if you’re aware of the funding options available to you or your loved one, there are many steps that you will need to go through to determine your eligibility and the amount of support you can receive. One of the steps is a comprehensive assessment by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to determine your eligibility for a Home Care Package.

The purpose

Your ACAT assessment will be completed by a skilled health professional from their team. The goal and focus of an ACAT assessment is to determine the support and care a person needs to remain living in their home safely and happily.

Many people misunderstand the purpose of an ACAT assessment and think it’s solely designed to move people to an aged care nursing home. This isn’t true. While the assessor can approve an individual for an aged care nursing home and respite, the government wants as many people as possible living in the homes and communities they love for as long as possible. The assessment is designed to support this goal.

Getting ready

It can take up to six to 12 weeks from your initial contact with My Aged Care to the date of the ACAT assessment meeting. In most cases, the assessment will take place in the home. You can have a family member, friend or carer attend the assessment for support and to help you with the questions.

The result of your ACAT assessment will determine your eligibility for a Home Care Package and the level of support you receive. As Home Care Packages are income tested, it is a good idea to organise an income and assets assessment in the time you are waiting to meet with the ACAT assessor. if you receive a means-tested income support payment, like age pension or service pension, from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Services you do not need to complete an assessment. The Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs will have enough information to work out your income tested fees.

To do this, contact the Department of Human Services on 1800 227 475. If you receive a Service Pension, you will need to contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 133 254. This determines any additional daily income-tested fee contributions towards your home care.

On the day of your ACAT assessment

During your assessment, you’ll be asked about:

  • what you can do for yourself and what you are seeking assistance with
  • if you have any health concerns
  • how you are managing with activities around the home
  • your safety in the home.

You may also be observed moving in and around your home to understand any mobility challenges you may be facing.

When answering questions, it’s really important to think about the future as well as the present. Talk about tasks and activities that are starting to become difficult and that you can see you may require more help with in the future.

How long will the assessment take?

Typically, an assessment will take 60 to 90 minutes. During that time, the assessor will work with you to develop a support plan to help identify your strengths and your areas of difficulty, your goals and what you would like to achieve. The plan will help you and the assessor identify the types of support that will best suit you.

After the assessment

Within two weeks of the assessment, you’ll receive a letter from My Aged Care with the outcome of your assessment. This will set out the level of Home Care Package you have been approved to receive. If you’re unhappy with the outcome, you can register your concern with the manager of the ACAT.

You will also be placed on a national priority ‘queue’ for Home Care Packages and will be contacted when a suitable package becomes available and assigned to you. This, unfortunately, can take up to 12 months.

While you wait

While you wait to be assigned your Home Care Package, it’s a good idea to research potential home care providers. You can find providers in your area by contacting My Aged Care or visiting the My Aged Care website.

When you reach the top of the national list, My Aged Care will send you a letter with your referral code and Home Care Package level so you can start organising your services.

You then have 56 days to activate your services by choosing and engaging an approved provider of Home Care Packages.

What to remember

  1. To ensure you receive the right level of government support through your ACAT assessment:
    • To ensure you receive the right level of government support through your ACAT assessment:
    • Think about the future in your answers and what you might need more help with as time goes on.
  2. Complete the income testing process while you are waiting for your ACAT assessment.
  3. Research and interview home care providers while you’re waiting for your Home Care Package to be assigned.
  4. Five Good Friends are an approved provider of Home Care Packages and in partnership with Apia offer a free Care Advice line to answer any questions you may have.

For more information, call the Five Good Friends and Apia Care Advice line on 1300 50 27 42.