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Aged Care: Levels of care

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Levels of care

Care options include in-home care and residential care providing standard accommodation and personal services. Residents pay for optional additional services.

In-home Care

Four levels of care:

  1. Basic
  2. Low level
  3. Intermediate
  4. High

Best suited for

Elderly person/s capable of living safely and independently in their own home.

What it includes

Actual services included depend on the level of care required, but include some or a combination of the following:

  • Personal care – showering, dressing, grooming, etc.
  • Errands – grocery shopping, bill paying, visiting friends, laundry, washing and ironing, etc.
  • Meal preparation
  • Companionship – outdoor activities, reading, letter writing, assisted exercise, etc.
  • Nursing, allied health and other clinical services – these services are included under Levels 3 and 4 as more complex clinical needs.

Fee structure

The cost depends on the means tested income of the client as well as the level of care delivered.

The government provides subsidies for home care, but basic fees apply in line with the age pension.

Those on incomes in excess of the age pension may be required to pay more.

Maximum fees payable are determined by the level of care required and other living expenses: rent, utilities, pharmaceutical, etc.

Residential Care

Best suited for

Elderly person/s not able to live safely in their own home or who, due to illness, disability and/or frailty needs continuous care.

What it includes

  • Accommodation services – including bedding, laundry, meals, cleaning and toiletries, building maintenance and daily activities.
  • Personal care assistance – including bathing, eating, dressing, moving, communicating, administering medicines and arranging health care appointments.

Fee structure

Fees apply to all residents of care facilities, depending on level of care and ability to pay.

Type of fee Included
Daily basic Living costs such as meals, power, laundry.
Means-tested An additional contribution towards cost of care determined by Department of Human Services (DHS) and based on
means-tested income and assets.
Accommodation The government may cover part or all of this as determined by DHS income and assets means test.
Extras/additional options Applies where higher accommodation standards or additional services are required. Variable depending on the residence and available facilities.

Watch out for “extras”

Although the government has capped annual and lifetime means-tested fees, additional charges to cover extras like hairdressing, internet access, excursions, etc, can apply.

It’s important to check with the facility first to find out how these extra services are offered and their associated costs. They can sometimes be disproportionate to the services supplied and add up to a substantial amount.

Aged care providers must give itemised accounts to the resident breaking down each of these services and the associated charge. Legislation also states that these fees cannot be charged more than one month in advance.

Care required on a short-term basis

Respite Care

Is for those who need some time out from being at home, and who feel they would benefit from a short-term stay in a care facility. After assessment, the charges will depend on the level and frequency of services accessed.

Transition Care Programs

Provide personal and allied health care (eg. physiotherapy) in the person’s home or live-in setting for a period of up to 18 weeks. An assessment is required. A fee may be charged to contribute to the cost of care depending on the circumstances.


More information:

My Aged Care website  “About home care packages”; “Aged care homes”; “Respite Care”; Transition Care Programme

Ageing and Aged Care website “Charging fees for additional care and services in residential aged care, including ‘capital refurbishment’ type fees”

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Bottrell Group


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