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.

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 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 $340,000.   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 500 780 and speak to one of our consultants.

 

Until next time
Margaret Harrison

Retirement village or aged care facility? Which is right for me or my parents?

Aged care housing options

Retirement village, nursing home or somewhere else that provides care and does not charge an ingoing fee?  What is the difference and how do you tell them apart?  Which one is more suitable for you or your parent?  This article helps you to understand the options.

Aged Care Residential Facility (nursing home)

This is a facility regulated under the Commonwealth Aged Care Act to provide both accommodation and care for the elderly and frail.  An older person needs an ACAS (Aged Care Assessment) to become a resident of an ACRF (Aged Care Residential Facility).  The care in an ACRF is subsidised by the Federal Government. Accommodation Payments must be paid for residing in an ACRF unless the resident does not have sufficient assets to pay an accommodation payment. This option can be good for people who are unable to care for themselves at home.

A Retirement Village

These are units or apartments regulated under State legislation.  Whilst they can be an excellent option for older people, they are not accredited aged care providers.  They may have on-site serviced apartments or bring in services to assist elderly residents.  Some retirement villages are part of a complex which includes an ACRF and some have affiliations with ACRF’s that will accept residents preferentially.  This option can be good for people who are able to care for themselves (even if they might need a little help) or those who are lonely or socially isolated.

Supported Residential Service (SRS)

This is a residential service that provides support and care for residents.  They are not accredited aged care providers although many have nursing staff and other qualified care staff on site.  They are regulated by State Governments.  Not all states have them.  The cost of care is not subsidised by the government although pensioners may receive rental assistance when staying at an SRS.  This option can be good for people who need some assistance with daily living or short term care.

Is your parent seeking home help to stay independent?

Each of these options could be appropriate and there are good and not so good providers of each type of accommodation.  It is important to understand what a place is so that you know what a resident can expect both financially and in terms of the care that is provided. The distinction is confusing and it is often very hard to tell which is which.  So how do you tell?  Here are some tips.

  1. If there is a fully functional kitchen in the unit, it is not an ACRF.  It is probably a retirement village;
  2. If the facility is advertised as not requiring an accommodation payment (bond) it is probably an SRS; or
  3. Ask the facility what it is.  They will tell you if you ask.  You just have to know what they mean when they give you the answer!

Contact us on 1800 500 780 if you need more help or advice.

Until next time
Margaret Harrison

How to avoid lonely old age

A while ago, I went to the COTA Australia annual conference.  COTA Australia is the peak national organisation representing the rights, needs and interests of older Australians.  The President of COTA, a very impressive woman in her 70’s welcomed the forum and reflected on the history of COTA and its achievements  During the course of her speech, she mentioned that when COTA started in the 1960’s the single biggest issue facing older Australians was social isolation and that remains the single biggest issue  for older Australians today.

We see strong evidence of this with many of our clients.  With age, many of your friends and associates have passed away or are too ill to socialise, you are treated very differently; often ignored and your opinion doesn’t count, your family is too busy working and raising their own children or grandchildren to spend much time with you.  And it is hard to make new friends. Social isolation is most prevalent for those who have lost their partners, particularly when they have spent many years caring for them.  There is a great sense of loss of purpose when the person you have cared for passes away.

So here are some suggestions to deal with social isolation;

  • Remain active.  Join a group that has some form of exercise.  There is likely to be some sort of local walking group or community sports centre that has fitness or exercise classes for older people.
  • Join a club.  There are loads of clubs for older Australians.  The best known are U3A and Probus which each have local chapters.
  • Contact the local council to see what activities they have.  Most councils have programs for older Australians and many even assist with transport to and from the event.
  • Offer your services to a charity.  Many charities do not allow older Australians to volunteer because they cannot insure them in the workplace but there are always some that are not ageist.
  • Learn to use a computer.  Local libraries often provide education sessions and help and there are private organisations devoted to helping older Australians as well.  We have several clients who have learned to use Skype and it has changes their lives.
  • Move into some form of community living, perhaps a retirement village or an aged care facility.
  • Find transport alternatives.  Often many people are isolated because they cannot get out and about.  Contact you local council about transport assistance, apply for the multi purpose taxi program (which gives you half priced taxis) or apply for a home care package either through your council or through the ACAS process and use that to pay for someone to take you out.

These are just some suggestions. The trick is to think about what you like and then make the effort to do it and spend what money you can enjoying yourself.  You have earned it.

Contact us if you 1800 500 780 need more help or advice.

 

Until next time
Margaret Harrison