Each person who enters a facility is assessed as to their financial circumstances and their care needs, and that will determine the services they receive and how much they have to pay.

Providers of aged care include a cross-section of not-for-profit, community-based, church and for profit organisations.

Most residents in aged care are government subsidised, and the subsidy is provided to aged care providers for ‘approved places’ in an aged care facility.

Sometimes, however, a provider has more than the approved places in their facility and these are known as ‘unfunded places’. They are more expensive than the usual approved places. Financially it is important that, in choosing a place in a facility, you determine if it is an approved place or an unfunded place. While much of the aged care law applies to unfunded places as much as approved places, there are differences that need to be understood. In particular, an unfunded place does not attract any government subsidy to contribute to the aged care fees, making the cost of aged care significantly higher.

Currently, aged care also features a variety of entities, which have discrete roles in regulating various aspects of aged care including the following services.

The Department of Social Services

Its role is to effectively administer the delivery of aged care including the payment of subsidies and grants, industry assistance and training, and general regulation of the aged care sector.

The Department of Human Services

Through Centrelink, the department assesses all residents’ financial circumstances and sets the fees required to be paid by residents in aged care.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs

It provides additional assistance to veterans in aged care.

The Aged Care Commissioner

The commissioner reviews decisions and processes of the Aged Care Complaints Scheme and the Aged Care Quality Agency.

The Aged Care Pricing Commissioner

The commissioner’s role is to approve accommodation payments that are higher than the maximum amounts approved by the minister and to approve extra service fees.

The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency

All aged care providers who wish to receive government subsidies for approved places must be accredited to do so by the agency who also undertakes audits of facilities to ensure they are complying with relevant standards.

The Aged Care Financing Authority

The authority’s responsibility is to oversee the aged care system by providing advice to the government on the financing and funding of the aged care sector.

Subsidised places in aged care are only provided to people who are an ‘approved aged care recipient’. This means they have been assessed as eligible by an Aged Care Assessment Team. An assessment can be arranged through the My Aged Care website, and for more information on eligibility criteria see also Approval of Aged Care Recipients Principles 2014 (Cth).