Last updated 11 August 2016

For older people who are unable to care for themselves or who need assistance in daily living activities, the option of residential care in an aged care facility may become necessary. While most of us would prefer to stay in our own home as we age, frailty or other conditions such as dementia, may leave us with little choice but to find assistance and full-time care in residential aged care.

The aged care system in Australia is primarily regulated by the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) (Aged Care Act) and the associated Aged Care Principles.

The system provides for Commonwealth funding of aged care places, complemented by some level of ‘user pays’ and a regulatory framework designed to ensure high-quality care for residents by aged care providers.

People entering care are generally required to contribute to their accommodation and are means tested to ensure they make a reasonable financial contribution to their care. The Commonwealth Government provides additional funding to subsidise aged care providers for the cost of providing care.

Please note:

On 1 July 2014, significant changes were made by the government to the aged care system, and this chapter deals with the new system that applies from that date. Some aspects of the previous system may still apply to residents who entered residential aged care before that date.

There are special transition provisions that apply to residents who may have lived in a facility before 1 July 2014 and subsequently moved out of that facility and into a new one.

This part deals only with residential aged care (aged care) delivered in an aged care facility and does not address the other options for people who wish to stay in their own home and receive home care from a home care provider.