Aged Care Assessment Team

If you need some help at home or are considering moving into an aged care home, you may first need a free assessment by an ACAT. A member of an ACAT will talk to you about your current situation and work out if you are eligible to receive government subsidised aged care services. 

You will typically need an ACAT assessment and approval if you have complex aged care needs and want to:

  • move into an aged care home
  • receive respite care in an aged care home
  • receive services through the Transition Care Program
  • access aged care services through any level of Home Care Package.

Note: In Victoria, Aged Care Assessment Teams are known as the Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS).

What happens at an ACAT assessment?

A member of your local ACAT – usually a nurse, social worker or other health care professional – will make a time to come to your home (or the hospital, if you are currently in hospital) and talk to you about how well you are managing in your day-to-day life. You are also welcome to have someone else – perhaps a family member, friend or your carer attend your assessment with you for extra support

The following steps briefly outline what you can expect to happen at an ACAT assessment. The ACAT member will:

  • Ask your permission to conduct the assessment.
  • Ask you if you wish to apply for approval to receive certain aged care services. They will explain these service options to you, and if you do want to apply, they will ask you to sign an application form.
  • Ask you questions about your day-to-day living activities and if you need help with some or all of them. They’ll also want to talk about your general state of health and specific health conditions. This will help them work out how much and what type of help you need.
  • Talk to you about whether they think you need more support so you can keep living in your own home, or if they think you might be better supported in an aged care home.
  • Give you information about all of the services available in your local area.

After the assessment has been conducted, you will receive a letter advising whether you have been approved or not. If approved for subsidised care, the assessment will indicate whether you are eligible to receive:

  • a home care package and at what level (i.e. Level 1, 2, 3 or 4), and/or
  • permanent residential care, and/or
  • respite residential care.

The ACAT approval generally does not lapse so you can access the packages at any time. The letter should be checked to ensure there is no lapse time on the assessment. A new assessment is required if you want to access a different level of care in the future than you were originally approved for.

Even if you have been approved for home care, the assessment may also indicate that you are eligible for respite or permanent residential aged care. This allows you to have options rather than dictating what care is needed.

How should I prepare for my assessment?

For any face-to-face assessment, you should:

  • have your Medicare card and one other form of ID proof – such as DVA card, driver’s license, healthcare card or passport 
  • have a copy of any referrals from your doctor
  • consider if you would like a support person present
  • have any information you already have about aged care services that you may want to discuss
  • have contact details for your GP or other health professionals
  • consider if you need special assistance to communicate, such as a translator or Auslan interpreter
  • have information on any support you receive.

Rights during an ACAT assessment

You may feel slightly anxious about the idea of being assessed by someone you don’t know, such as a member of an ACAT. If you’re feeling this way, just remember that the nurse, social worker or other professional visiting you is experienced in talking to people in your situation and will understand how you are feeling. Tell them honestly about your situation and what your concerns are.

You have the right to:

  • be treated with dignity and respect
  • information about the assessment process, such as being told what is happening and why
  • express your own views and ideas
  • have your personal information, such as a medical history, treated in confidence
  • have someone with you during the assessment if you wish. This may be a family member, close friend or carer
  • have an interpreter, which the ACAT can arrange
  • talk to an independent advocate who can help you with advice, or act on your behalf.

If you are not satisfied that your rights were observed during the ACAT assessment process, you can make a complaint to your relevant state or territory government who employ the ACATs.

Organising an ACAT appointment

To organise an appointment, you need to first call the MyAgedCare service centre on 1800 200 422 for an initial phone conversation.

Your doctor, a nurse or social worker may also be able to help to arrange an appointment. Appointment times will vary depending on the urgency of the assessment. People can normally expect to wait 4-6 weeks for an appointment for a home care assessment.

There is no cost for an ACAT assessment and you are not required to make decisions about what sort of services you would like while they are being assessed. The assessor should work with you to develop a high-level support plan at this meeting.