The Finances of Aged Care – You Have Time!

Aged Care Finances

Working with families who are considering Aged Care for a loved one for the first time can be traumatic.

Sometimes the journey to Aged Care is a gradual one, and can allow for some planning. For others though, it is thrust upon them through a medical episode or accident and requires urgent decision making. For those families needing to make quick decisions, the whole process can be overwhelming. Inevitably, one of the first few questions is “How are we going to afford this?”.

In two decades of working with families in negotiating the financial impacts of Aged Care, I have two recurring messages:

  • The financial impacts are not the most important ones to deal with straight away – you have time; and
  • The Aged Care “system”, from a financial perspective, largely works – in most cases, there is a financial solution.

That is not to say that every situation has a good outcome (from a financial point of view) and that the costs won’t be significant, but in many cases, there is a viable solution.

The Non-financial Impact is More Important

I am no expert in the non-financial aspects of Aged Care but have worked over the years with many amazing social workers, nurses, placement officers and organisations who do excellent work in helping individuals and their families. They know that largely the financial assessments can wait, and that there is a solution for most. The emotional impact of a potential move needs time to digest, and for a scared and traumatised individual, it is arguably the most important consideration. Even if you’ve had no time to plan, the finances can wait! There is grief associated with a loss of independence and being advised that home is no longer an option. My advice is to work through that first.

Financially, the “System” Works

The above is not to say that you can ignore the financial impacts of Aged Care. Not at all. While the maze of Aged Care fees is a complex one, it is my view that in most cases a solution to funding the costs can be met. Not everyone has a spare $500,000 floating around to pay the Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD), but what is probably less publicised is that you don’t need to! Yes, the fees will be significant, but in most cases they fall within an individual’s means. Even when the potential resident’s partner is still alive or you decide to retain the family home, there are ways to make it work.

Time Is Important Though!

The amount of considerations for the family of a prospective Aged Care resident can be overwhelming. Finding an appropriate Aged Care facility, dealing with significant emotion, decision making about assets – it all takes time. It makes sense that perhaps one family member is designated with the responsibility to find out about the financial impacts. This is the point that we meet many people. Getting the appropriate paperwork completed, understanding the various fees and the options for payment as well as how this all interacts with Centrelink are all important issues. provides a wealth of information about this and much more. It may be that spending some time online will provide you with the answers you need, or you may need to seek professional help from people such as ourselves.

The Key Financial Considerations Can Be:

  • If there is a family home involved, what are the options for it?
  • Should we pay accommodation costs as a lump sum or via periodic payments?
  • How will the move to Aged Care impact Centrelink entitlements?
  • How can partners or other dependants be protected?

While these are all important, decisions about many of these considerations can be made after the move to Aged Care has occurred. A resident has 28 days to advise the Aged Care facility about how they are going to make payment, and if a lump sum option is selected (which perhaps involves selling a house), 6 months to make the payment.

The Centrelink paperwork can be onerous, and their assessment can take 6 – 8 weeks. This is often the starting point for many families, however it is important to know that you don’t need to wait for the assessment to be done to start the search for an appropriate Aged Care facility.

Seek Advice

In such overwhelming circumstances, it is important to know that there are people available to assist. Centrelink’s own Financial Information Service (FIS) is an excellent resource. Financial advisers like us can help you navigate the maze, and there are people who specialise in finding vacancies. Our advisers aim to assist you with your decision making, and take you through the daunting process in a steps-based way, rather than overloading you with all of the information at the worst possible time.

This website contains general advice which does not consider your particular circumstances. You should seek advice from Wakefield Partners who can consider if the general advice is right for you.