ACAT Assessment Guide – everything you need to know

ACAT assessment process

Aged Care Decisions have put together this handy guide that explains everything you need to know about the ACAT assessment process.

What is an ACAT assessment?

ACAT stands for Aged Care Assessment Team. 

ACAT assessments are coordinated by Australian government organisation, My Aged Care.  They are used to evaluate the care needs of individuals and determine who can access government subsidised aged care services.

In Victoria the term used is ACAS, or Aged Care Assessment Service.

Why would you need an ACAT assessment?

An ACAT assessment is the first step you need to take to access government-funded aged care services.

They are used to determine eligibility and allocate funding for:

  • Residential aged care placements
  • Home care packages across four levels
  • Respite and transitional care, both residential and home care based.

Who can apply for an ACAT assessment?

Australians aged 65 years and older, or 50 years and older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, can apply for government-subsidised aged care services.

My Aged Care have an eligibility checker on their website, which lets you quickly check whether you meet the requirements for an assessment before you apply.

Search for https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/am-i-eligible on your internet browser

How can you organise an ACAT Assessment?

You can organise an assessment online by going to https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/assessment or by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

A doctor or other health professional can also refer you to My Aged Care for an assessment.

What happens during an ACAT assessment?

A member of the Aged Care Assessment Team, usually a nurse, social worker, or health care professional, will interview you to check your physical and mental health. 

They’ll look at the way you manage day-to-day activities and speak with you about what aged care services will be best to help you.  

An ACAT assessment is usually conducted in your home and takes about 3 hours.

The interview is like a friendly conversation, and there are no forms for you to fill out.  Some people ask a trusted friend or family member to join them, which is a great idea for people who get overwhelmed by lots of information and questions.

What does an ACAT Assessment cost?

Nothing. ACAT Assessments are funded by the Australian Government.

How long does it take to get an ACAT Assessment?

There are 4 steps to the ACAT assessment process:

  1. Apply for an ACAT assessment: the wait time between your application and your interview is usually between 2 to 6 weeks.
  • The assessment:  an Aged Care Assessment Team member will spend about 3 hours with you during the actual assessment.
  • Approval:  after your assessment, the wait time for approval can be several weeks to several months.

When your subsidised care is approved, you may wait for 3 to 12 months before funds are allocated to you, depending on your location and the level of care you require.

  • Allocation:   When funds have been assigned to you, depending upon the support you were approved for, you can choose an aged care facility, or home care provider, and start receiving government subsidized services.

Frequently asked questions about ACAT Assessments

Does an ACAT assessment expire after a certain amount of time?

Permanent residential care and Home Care Package approvals do not expire, unless the ACAT approval was granted for only a specific period. 

If your health status or care needs have changed, it is a good idea to be reassessed though, so the support you receive is appropriate and adequate for your needs.

If you have been declined subsidised support in the past, you can re-apply and be re-assessed.

Can you have an ACAT assessment if you are in hospital?

Yes.  If you are in hospital and would like to be assessed for a residential aged care placement, or a home care package to help you when you go home, a social worker at your hospital can organise an assessment for you.

What if you’re unhappy with your ACAT Assessment results?

If you aren’t happy with your assessment, the first step is to contact your assessor, or My Aged Care, to discuss your concerns.

If you cannot come to an agreement, you can appeal the decision and have the assessment reviewed by the Secretary of the Australian Department of Health. A review must be requested in writing within 28 days of your assessment letter arriving.  

If you don’t agree with the Secretary’s review, you can escalate the matter by contacting the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

What if you urgently need care but haven’t had an ACAT assessment yet?

The ACAT assessment process can take weeks to months, however it can be fast-tracked if you or your loved one are in a crisis or are at risk of harm.  Contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to see if this is an option for you.

Importantly, you can access care without an ACAT assessment – however it will potentially cost you more in the short term without the government funding support. 

How can you find providers that suit your needs?

Aged Care Decisions can help you find suitable aged care vacancies and providers at any stage of your aged care journey, as well as provide valuable support and professional advice. 

They are a FREE and independent service that can help you find aged care providers and vacancies that suit your unique needs.

They use custom-built software that takes your location, budget, specific care needs and personal preferences, and creates a tailored aged care Options Report for you. This report narrows your search down to only include vacancies and available providers that match your needs.

Essentially, they do all the running around for you.   You can contact Aged Care Decisions on 1300 775 870 or make an enquiry online at www.agedcaredecisions.com.au.

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