At Home Caring, we are an approved provider of in home care, dementia care, disability care, and respite care services on Home Care Packages.. As such, we regularly work with those who need financial assistance in ensuring their loved ones get the standard of care that they deserve.
Your Aged Care Assessment Team (or ACAT) will carry out a full assessment to help you see what kind of financial assistance could be available to you. However, there are many who aren’t certain of what to expect from their assessment, so we’re going to boil down what’s involved.
Here, we’re going to look at the process, what kind of questions they’re likely to ask, and how you can ensure your best chances of an accurate assessments and the best results in return. Government subsidised aged care will always demand the assessment and approval of an ACAT so, for many, it’s an essential step.
About the ACAT assessment
When an individual is no longer able to live independently and safely in their home without assistance, the ACAT is there to work with them and their carer to discover the kind of care can help them maintain a high quality of life. As a result, they may be eligible for a Home Care Package for their own home, respite care, or transition care services following a hospital stay.
ACAT assessments are required if you want to have respite care in an aged care home or receive aged care services through a Home Care Package. Aged Care Assessment Teams are local groups, comprised of nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and social workers. One of these people will be present for the assessment, and the other members of the team will help them look over the results and finalise any recommendations and outcomes of the assessment.
Arranging an ACAT assessment
Arranging an ACAT assessment is as simple as getting in touch with My Aged Care’s customer service centre, which you can call on 1800-200-422. However, you can also have your doctor, social worker, and other health professionals make this call on your behalf. Your family, friends, hospital social workers, community service providers and others with an interest in the health and safety of an older person can also supply a referral in support of the ACAT assessment.
What you need to know before going in for an ACAT assessment
Following that initial call, your local ACAT should arrange a time that they are able to send one of their team members out to talk with you and carry out the assessment. Before that, they may ask for your permission to talk with your doctor. This is to give them a better idea of your medical history before the assessment, which can help your chances.
It’s not uncommon to feel a little nervous or anxious about an ACAT assessment if you’ve never gone through the process before. As such, here are a few facts to keep in mind that can help you relax:
- The assessment is only to work out what kind of help you may need to live independently and what types of services you could apply for.
- The assessment is fully state funded, which means that you don’t have to pay anything for it.
- Assessments normally take between 45 minutes to 75 minutes, and another two weeks before the report arrives.
- There are clear Commonwealth government aged care legislation guidelines that the ACAT have to follow.
- You are free to speak and make your own opinions and thoughts clear, as this is a crucial part of the process.
- You don’t have to make any decisions on what kind of care you want during the assessment.
- You can have a friend or relative with you throughout the assessment.
- If you believe you need an interpreter, you can ask for one and they should be provided.
Getting prepared for your assessment
During the phone call during which you acquire about an assessment, or in follow-up calls, your local ACAT should make it clear what they need you to prepare before the appointment. However, here is a general list of things you should make ready in advance of the face-to-face assessment:
- Your Medicare card.
- One other proof of ID, such as a passport, driver’s license, healthcare card or DVA card.
- A copy of any referrals or notes you have received from your doctor.
- Information about aged care services that you have been looking into.
- Contact details for your doctor, health professionals, and social workers.
- Information for any related support that you already receive
- You may want to consider if you prefer or need anyone to assist, such as relatives and friends for support, translators, interpreters, guide dogs, and so on.
- All information gathered during the assessment, including your medical history and information, will be treated with complete confidence.
The beginning of the assessment
In most cases, your face-to-face assessment will be between you and only one member of the ACAT team. If you need an interpreter or translator, they may also come, and you are allowed to have a family member or friend there for support. However, only one ACAT member will be present, and they will consult with other team members later when finalising your assessment and completing their recommendations.
At the very start, they will lead with some formal questions about the process and your consent to take part in this. This includes whether or not you give your permission to the assessment taking place and whether you want to apply for approval of certain aged care services. Different service options should be explained to you during this process and you are welcome to ask any questions about them.
Once you agree to proceed, you are going to be asked to sign an application form. You can also give permission for someone else, such as a family member or friend, to sign on your behalf, but this has to be applied for ahead of the assessment.
What are you going to be asked during the assessment?
The ACAT assessment, itself, is primarily a series of questions, built to determine what kind of care you may be in need of, and to make recommendations based on those needs. These questions will cover a range of topics, including the following:
- Your health and medical needs. This covers both physical and cognitive health conditions you may have, any treatments you are undergoing to treat them, as well as potential health and medical concerns.
- Your physical and mobility needs. This can include questions about how you are able to get around, transport needs, your ability to carry out day-to-day tasks such as washing, dressing, using the bathroom, preparing meals, cleaning, attending healthcare appointments, and so on.
- Your psychological needs. These questions will be about how you feel and any concerns you have for the present or future. You will be asked about any experiences of depression or other mental illnesses, as well. There may also be questions about whether you have any problems with your memory.
- Your social needs. These questions look to gather information on your friends, family, and support networks that are a part of your life. Your assessor will also ask about hobbies, interests, and social activities you are taking part in or would like to take part in.
- Other concerns. There are questions about religious and cultural beliefs, language needs, sexuality, and other special needs that may be important to you and your lifestyle.
Again, these questions are all designed to help the ACAT team figure out what you care needs are and to make sure that their recommendations to ensure that they are all met. If you have any concerns, it’s recommended to have someone else there to support you during the assessment. You can have anyone you want with you.
Discussing your options
You will not be expected to make any final decisions on the kind of care you choose during the assessment. However, you, the ACAT member, and your carer or loved one will have a discussion about the different care options available. This can include talking about whether you may be able to keep living in your own home and support you may need to do so, as well as whether you might be able to maintain a higher quality of life in an aged care home.
Do not worry about any decisions being made without your input. Your own views and preferences on the type of care that you choose are taken very seriously during the assessment. As such, you will be given the chance to express your opinions and concerns, and to ask any questions that can help you make more informed choices down the line.
Developing a support plan
During the assessment, the ACAT member will be recording what was discussed and agreed throughout. This is known as the support plan. It covers a range of topics, such as:
- Your strengths and capabilities
- Difficulties and barriers to independence
- Goals for your care plans
- Any preferences you have for care services
- Any objections you have to certain care services
This support plan is what they will use to discuss your care with the other ACAT members and serves as a guide for them to find the care and services that best suit your needs and wants. It will help them make recommendations on service providers, community assistance, and other resources that could help you regain confidence and independence in your daily life.
What won’t happen at an ACAT assessment
It’s not uncommon for people to feel apprehensive about assessments that take a closer look at their personal lives, medical conditions, and needs. However, you will be treated with dignity and respect throughout the assessment. As such, your opinions, concerns, and questions will not be dismissed, rejected, or criticised.
Furthermore, you will not have to make any final decisions throughout the assessment. Nor will the present ACAT member make any final decisions on the assessment or tell you the outcome during the assessment itself. They have to discuss the appointment with their fellow ACAT members and use only the information provided before they get back in touch to provide their advice.
Questions you may want to ask during the assessment
If there are any queries or concerns that you have during the assessment, you are welcome to ask them at any time. You do not have to wait to ask them. Here are a few examples of questions you may want to prepare ahead of time to help you understand your options:
- What services are available to help me reach my goals?
- Are there are any locally available services and are there any waiting times to gain access to them?
- I have certain religious beliefs, cultural beliefs, or language needs, are there any service providers that can accommodate them?
- Are there supports available for my carer and what are they?
- If I have any other questions or concerns for my assessor after the assessment, how do I get in touch with them?
What to expect after the ACAT assessment
You will not receive any final outcomes of the assessment during the appointment itself. It takes an average of two weeks for the outcome report to be delivered in writing to your address. On this letter, you should have information on
- Services that you have been approved for and any requirements needed to use them
- Reasoning and evidence behind the decisions
- Information on how to appeal the decision if you’re not happy with it
- Contact details if you have further questions or points to discuss
- Information about service providers in your area
- A copy of your Aged Care Client Record.
It’s recommended that you make and keep copies of everything you receive from the ACAT. If you are not happy with your assessment outcome, you have 28 days to appeal it, and the outcome letter should give you details on how to do that.
Arranging your ACAT assessment
Hopefully, the information above helps you understand everything you need to know about ACAT assessments. As a provider of in home care in Australia, Home Caring is glad to help you prepare for your assessment, simply get in touch and we can give you more specific advice if you want to make use of our services.