Support, guidance & advice for todays primary carers
Being a carer for an elderly loved one is challenging enough without being expected to know and remember the many acronyms used in the Aged Care sector. When looking to get your loved one assessed for home care (a Home Care Assessment), you will most likely come across terms like RAS/ACAT/ACAS.
But what do they mean and how are they different? It’s important to understand them, as it will assist you in accessing the right care for your loved one.
The main two that you will do well to understand is RAS – Regional Assessment Service and ACAT – Aged Care Assessment Team (or ACAS – Aged Care Assessment Service in Victoria only).
RAS vs ACAT
All together, these terms come under the broader base of My Aged Care (MAC).
My Aged Care was introduced on 1 July 2013. The design intent was to allow the needs of older persons to be assessed and supported to locate and access services. Despite the so called “ease” with which a person’s needs can be assessed, navigating My Aged Care can be confusing and overwhelming.
Breaking down the jargon and acronyms may give carers a simpler understanding of My Aged Care.
While RAS and ACAT/S both fall under the broader umbrella that makes up My Aged Care, which pathway is better and where do I start?
Referrals for an assessment can be made directly to My Aged Care via several ways. They can be made via a self-referral, through a carer, or through a GP or other health professional. An assessment is free of charge and there is no obligation to accept any of the recommendations. Assessments are usually face-to-face in either the client’s or carer’s home. In some circumstances, assessments may take place in a hospital or alternative setting. To be eligible for referral, a person must be over 65 years of age (50 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people).
How are they assessed?
An assessment with RAS is usually undertaken with a trained Home Support Assessor.
The assessment determines the person’s needs and then supports them to link into appropriate services. These services support them to live at home independently and to gain access to their community. This assessment is tailored for people who are relatively independent. They may be wanting to access at-home services at low-level care and just need basic entry-level services. Referrals are then generated via a referral code or by direct referral to an appropriate Commonwealth Home Support Programme Provider.
Examples of services that can be accessed include domestic support, home maintenance, personal care, and Allied Health. A full list can be found at: www.myagedcare.gov.au.
In most states and territories, this process has been tendered out to organisations funded by the Commonwealth Government. In Victoria and Western Australia, current state models continue. The Department of Health and Human Resources is responsible for providing Regional Assessment Services across Victoria.
For persons with more complex needs who require a greater level of support at home or are no longer able to live at home, and are looking to move into Residential Aged Care, an Aged Care Assessment is required. Approvals can also be sought for access to Residential Respite (short-term support for up to 63 days in a residential care facility).
The Aged Care Assessment is usually conducted by a Nurse, Allied Health or Social Worker. They usually have experience in aged care.
A person’s care needs are assessed to determine the best level to meet these needs through Commonwealth funded Home Care Packages.
HOME CARE PACKAGES PROVIDE FOUR LEVELS OF SUPPORT:
LEVEL 1: BASIC CARE NEEDS
LEVEL 2: LOW LEVEL CARE NEEDS
LEVEL 3: INTERMEDIATE CARE NEEDS
LEVEL 4: HIGH-LEVEL CARE NEEDS
The package is made up of a large proportion of the Australian Government Subsidy and a contribution that is paid by the client.
Further information about costs and income-tested care fees can be found at www.myagedcare.gov.au (search on-site Fee Estimator) or call my Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
With the assessment determining a person’s care at the time, most people are likely to enter in at either a Level 1 or Level 2 Home Care Package. Given our aging population, the trend to live longer at home, and the changing health of older persons, it is not uncommon for reassessments to be required to review the levels of Home Care Package support.
RAS is designed to complement the existing Aged Care Assessment Teams/Services. It has been flagged that the two services will merge in the future to enable one, ra
As outlined in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (2018), there are substantial gaps in Aged Care. This is both in Residential Care and in meeting the needs of older people in their own homes.
The current wait period is six to 18 months or longer. This is too long for older people and their carers to wait for their packages to become available. Hence the injection of $6.5 Billion, announced by the Federal Government in May 2021, and more than 80,000 Home Care Packages brought out in the next two years, is long overdue.
Once the assessment is completed and a person is approved, they are entered into a national priority system. This is based on when they were approved and the priority for services approved at the assessment.
FOR THOSE ASSIGNED THEIR HOME CARE PACKAGE, WHAT IS NEXT?
With the introduction of My Aged Care in 2013, the choice of provider lies with the consumer. Each individual has the right to choose a provider that is right for them. The Government then pays their Service Provider a subsidy to arrange a package of care services to meet their needs.
This is usually arranged via a meeting where a care plan is designed around their unique care needs.
A provider may be sourced using the “Find a Provider Tool” on the My Aged Care Website. Comparing providers for their fees and the number of services they are able to provide is recommended.
IN CONCLUSION, WHICH IS THE RIGHT DIRECTION TO TAKE, AND WHY HAVE I BEEN REFERRED TO THE RAS AS OPPOSED TO THE ACAT/S?
RAS is a great option for those requiring more immediate, entry-level support to enable their loved ones to remain at home. Often this is the assessment of choice even if an Aged Care Assessment is required. This is due to limited or slow access to more immediate supports and services due to the length of wait times for an Aged Care Assessment or Commonwealth Funded Package. The services via the RAS are often at a basic entry-level and may be short-term only.
An Aged Care Assessment via the ACAT/S is available to all people over the age of 65 (50 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People). People undertaking an Assessment may at the time also be seeking approvals for residential aged care and residential respite options.
For those unsure, the RAS may make a recommendation and guide the carer to access an Aged Care Assessment and complete the referral.
Otherwise contacting My Aged Care is recommended, either by calling 1800 200 422 to discuss or by enquiring via My Aged Care using an eligibility checker at myagedcare.gov.au/eligibility-checker.
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Carer Gateway is an Australian Government program providing free services and support for carers. Call Carer Gateway for support and access to services, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm local time.
Assistance with accessing emergency respite is available any time, 24/7.
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