Planning a move to residential aged care

Planning a move to residential aged care

Leaving your family home and moving to a residential aged care residence can be a challenging time with many personal and financial decisions needing to be made but early planning and good advice can minimise the impact for you and your family.  In this article, we outline some tips to help you plan for the move.

Consider involving your family in the process

Some of your family members may feel aggrieved if they are not part of the planning process so a good idea can be to hold a family meeting to:

– Discuss options and preferences

– Explore each person’s concerns

– Decide who needs to be involved in any planning

You might be able to defer the move by arranging aged care assistance in your home

Before you make any decision about a move to a residential aged care residence, it may be important to consider that aged care support can be accessed in your home or in a residential service.  In other words, you might be able to defer the move and still receive the assistance you need.

To help you decide if you can access home assistance, you can arrange a free assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/ACAS).

Selecting an aged care residence

There are many factors to consider when you are selecting an aged care residence.  These might include:

  • Location (proximity to friends and family)
  • Amenities & services available
  • Your health care needs (now and later)
  • Fees and charges
  • Quality and selection of food
  • Friendliness of staff
  • Social activities
  • Access to shopping
  • Age of residents

Assessing the costs

There are generally three types of residential care fees: accommodation, care and additional services.  Your contributions may depend on:

  • The service you choose
  • Your assessable assets
  • Your assessable income.

Accommodation payments

This is a contribution towards the cost of your room, use of the amenities and property maintenance. You can choose to pay a lump sum (refundable accommodation deposit or RAD) or a daily payment (DAP) or a combination.  This payment will differ between residences depending on the location and the quality of the property.

Note that RADS are fully refunded when you leave, unless you ask for other fees to be deducted from the RAD or you have outstanding fees when you leave.

Daily care fees

To help pay for your ongoing care, you will pay a basic daily care fee that is the equivalent of 85% of the basic single rate of age pension, and potentially a means-tested care fee if you have income and assets over specified thresholds. The means tested care fee is limited by annual and lifetime caps.

Additional service fees

This is payable for extra services you select and, depending on the facility, may be offered as a package or on a user pays basis.

Managing your finances

Before making a move, it is a prudent strategy to ask your financial adviser to assist you in answering these questions to ensure you optimise your financial position:

  • Should your family home be kept, sold or rented?
  • Are you best to pay a RAD or DAP (or combination) for your accommodation?
  • Is your Centrelink/Veterans’ Affairs pension affected and can this be improved?
  • How should you invest any surplus money?
  • Can any taxes be minimised?
  • How is your estate affected?

It is critical you see your financial adviser before completing a financial assessment (either with the preferred aged care facility or with Centrelink/DVA) as once your means tested and other fees are determined, options to reduce the cost burden on entering aged care will not be available.

Estate Planning

Moving into a residential aged care residence is often a useful catalyst to review your estate plan, including these documents:

  • Your will
  • Your superannuation ‘death benefit’ nominations
  • Your enduring powers of attorney which allow you to appoint someone you trust to make financial, personal and/or medical decisions when you are no longer able to make these decisions yourself including choices about medical treatment, living arrangements and the payment of expenses.


When you accept a place in an aged care service you will have 28 days to decide whether to pay for your accommodation as a lump sum (RAD), a daily fee (DAP) or a combination. After this you may still have time to rearrange your assets to make the payments.

You may also need to contact Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs to notify them of your change in living arrangements as well as any changes to your income and assets. You might also need to send your new address to:

  • Your doctor
  • Your bank
  • Medicare
  • The electoral roll
  • Your insurers
  • Your investment providers


If you or your family need to discuss your current situation, feel free to contact one of our staff to gain further information.

This article was first published via Australian Unity. For a full disclaimer on the points listed, they can be viewed here.

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