Having to transition parents who can no longer live independently into a residential aged care facility can be a difficult time.

Moving homes rates as one of the most stressful things we can do at the best of times, let alone when the move involves an aged-care facility – and when not all agree with the move.

Having conversations about funding aged care and what to do with the family home can be awkward for some families and many find it quite confronting.  The rules, regulations and jargon can also be incredibly complicated.

Statistically, most of the responsibility for taking care of elderly parents tends to fall upon the eldest female in the family – that’d be me! A study by Princeton University found that daughters step up twice as often as sons in the provision of elderly care, regardless of job, children, financial status and other situations.


A great way to avoid a last-minute panic about finding a suitable aged-care place is by getting ageing parents to take a look at alternatives while they are still agile.  Options vary from in-home care to Over 50’s villages and full care facilities.

Not everyone will eventually need care, and many are able to stay independent at home for the duration.  A lot avoid the thought of “old-people’s homes” imagining the same style of dark and cramped places their own parents perhaps moved into, but it’s time to do some research.  Whilst some places might be a little run down or need a lick of paint, others are more like a five-star resort.

Keeping lines of communication open is vital and avoid treating your parents like children in the process.  Starting discussions before they’re completely necessary will mean you have a better handle on their preferences and expectations.

Estate Planning Preparation

A vital point to consider is ensuring your parents have an enduring power of attorney.  If you’ve heard of one, but aren’t really sure what it is, basically, it’s a legal document that gives another person authority to make legally binding decisions on their behalf.

“It’s vital to make these appointments before a person becomes too incapacitated as the alternative is going to court to request a guardianship order.

Appointing an enduring guardian is also highly recommended. This gives the representative ability to make health and lifestyle-related decisions.  A valid will also will take the angst out of ‘who gets what’ is is a written version of the parents’ wishes.

Help at home

Many are able to stay at home by having in-home-care packages. To obtain one, your parents will need to have an ACAT assessment. Visit My Aged Care centre to organise this or contact your Aged Care specialist financial adviser.

Extra home help is a great option and the conversation is more about managing independence. Obtaining help supplements activities your parents feel they can currently cope with and allow them to continue living at home with a bit of additional help for those duties they can no longer manage.

There are four different levels of home care available, and several providers, so it might be worth shopping around for a service best suited to your parents’ needs.  Many local communities have great support facilities available.  Short-term respite care is also available for when carers need a break or if you’d like to ‘try before you buy’ at different facilities.

Aged-care facilities

When it comes to full-time care it starts to get more complicated, particularly on the financial front.  Accommodation costs and care fees vary and depend on which residential facility your parents choose, their income, assets and the services they’ll need.

Generally speaking, depending on where you go, there are up to four levels of fees:

  • a daily care fee of $48.44 (valid 20/09/16 – 19/03/17)
  • a refundable accommodation deposit or RAD.  The RAD on average is around $300,000 to $400,000 (but can vary between $200,000 to $2,500,000.)  The RAD is refundable, however with no interest.
  • a means-tested care fee which depends on your assets and income;
  • and an extra services fee (which is optional but available for those who’d like a bit more from their facility, like wine with meals or better quality food.)

If you go with paying a RAD, there are choices to be made about a how to fund it, including selling or renting out the principal residence.  A RAD can be partly or fully subsidised by the government, leading some families to think that their parents are better off running down their funds, but caution is needed.

“If you have money available, you will have much better choice over the facility you end up in and the room you want. Some rooms are shared or have shared bathrooms, which may not be what your parent wants,” warns Amanda Cassar from Trusted Aged Care Services.  “It’s always wise to speak with a professional before making any moves, financial or otherwise.”

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