Aged Care Future Planning Paid Off

Caroline and Billy

Last week I wrote a blog about future planning for aged care. For Billy and Caroline it paid off. With my help they planned for the day they would move to an aged care facility. Caroline and Billy received an offer from their chosen facility last week, and have gladly accepted it.

Initially they were hesitant to consider moving from their home, despite encouragement to plan for this from both their family and doctor. When I was referred to them in April/May last year they decided to explore the possibilities with my help. Caroline had concerns for the short term that she may need to go to hospital and her husband Billy cannot be left on his own. In the long term they wanted to be together and share a suite. I recommended they get their financials in order so they would be prepared, and referred them to a Financial Planner.  We decided to begin searching in their local area for suitable accommodation.

They continued to manage reasonably well at home with services and assistance from their family until late last year when Caroline needed hospitalisation for a few days. Interim care was arranged for Billy at home but when Caroline had complications and had to stay in hospital longer, I found emergency respite for Billy in one of the homes we had initially visited.  The family were very pleased with the care Billy received but for Caroline it was not the facility where she wanted to spend the rest of her life.

Once Caroline and Billy returned home, she called a family meeting, which I attended, and informed her family that she had decided that it was time for her and Billy to make the transition to permanent residential care. She felt that, should there be another crisis, she did not want this undue pressure put on her family again. They had decided on Kew Gardens Aged Care, so I contacted the facility and asked for their application to be moved from waiting to urgent. Within two months a suite became available. They chose the Kew Gardens aged care facility because it is right across the road from their present home and they already have friends residing there.  Set on the edge of beautiful Kew Gardens, it is aptly named and has a pleasing outlook. They will move shortly. I am so pleased that this transition will be far less stressful for them ,due to their taking action and forward planning. I was happy to assist them in their planning and take pride in doing the best for my clients.

Seek Professional Advice On Retirement Village Contracts

Four Corners and Fairfax Media have recently reported on a story about retirement village living which is worrying. My advice to anyone contemplating entering a retirement village is that they should first speak with their family and let them know what they are planning before entering into any contract. They should also seek legal advice about the details of any contract they contemplate entering into, seeking clarification on not only the financial aspects of the contract but also looking at the fine print on lifestyle regulations. This is good practice for any contract, but particularly in the instance of retirement living as the stakes are so high.

Aged Care is not a trademark and any organisation can state they provide aged care. It’s important to understand the difference between private retirement living companies who advertise that they provide aged care and Government funded aged care.

Checking out all aspects of a retirement village or aged care facility is extremely important. This is one of the reasons clients use my aged care consultancy services.They know they will have a professional who will find them the right place to live in their later years and that I will thoroughly assess the suitability of each option. I recommend that my clients seek further professional input from their legal advisors and financial planners experienced in the aged care field.

During my career as an Aged Care Placement Consultant I have seen many cases where a knowledgeable Financial Planner has given advice to a client that has made a positive difference to the type of accommodation they were able to acquire. I care very much for the welfare of all my clients and do not want to see them suffer as they make these very challenging transitions in life from their own home to a retirement village or an aged care facility.

Aged Care Facilities May Face Changes to Ratios Following Report


It is with great interest that I read the recent Report on Access To Care (January 2017) by the Australian Government Aged Care Financing Authority. As an Aged Care Placement Consultant I need to be across any changes in aged care accommodation.

Currently all residential aged care services need to meet the supported resident ratio in their region, which was based on regional socio-economic data. If these regional ratios are not met the facility could face subsidy deductions, however it was noted in the report that no facilities have been hit with a subsidy deduction since the introduction in October 1997.

It was found that regional ratios have not only been met but in most cases exceeded by the individual facilities. During 2015-16 the report noted that 93.3% of individual services in Australia had exceed their regional ratio. In all regions the percentage of supported accommodation was well above the required ratio and had increased incrementally over the last four years. I looked at the Victorian Regions data with most interest as that is the where I operate my business as an Aged Care Placement Consultant.

Victorian Regions Table:

Region 2016 Supported Residents in Permanent Care Regional Supported Resident Ratio
Barwon South-Western 42.3% 18.6%
Eastern Metro 33.76% 16.70%
Gippsland 47.0% 18.20%
Grampians 48.8% 18.20%
Hume 42.2% 18.50%
Loddon-Mallee 46.5% 18.20%
Northern Metro 44.5% 23.40%
Southern Metro 41.9% 18.20%
Western metro 49.3% 24.70%

Considering the regional ratios are being exceeded by an average of 20 to 30% ACFA considers there is not a strong case to continue the regional ratios. They don’t consider that provider behaviour is being significantly affected by the ratios. However, they do see a clear financial incentive with the separate 40% rule, which they see as a more effective influencer in provider behaviour.

The 40% rule deems that an aged care service provider can receive the maximum amount of accommodation supplement for each supported resident if more than 40% of total residents are supported residents and this is based on daily ratios. The maximum amount per day for supported residents is $54.39 in a modern or newly refurbished facility and $35.44 a day in an older facility. If the 40% ratio is not met the supplement is reduced by 25%.

ACFA recommends that the 40% ratio rule be applied on a monthly rather than daily basis. This would mean that the supplement is payable for a month at a time rather than days at a time, which would reduce administrative work considerably. Following this system if a facility had under 40% of supported residents for a whole month then their payment would reduce by 25% for the month, however if they had over 40% of supported residents for the month their payment would stay at the maximum amount. The average ratio of supported residents in 2015-16 for Australia was 46.8%, with Victoria being 42.5%.  Only the ACT fell below 40% at 38.7%.

Full Report.

It’s Imperative To Have The Right Financial Advice For Aged Care Accommodation


Before helping a client, family member or yourself to move into an aged care facility it is imperative to obtain the correct financial advice. I had an experience this week with a client that really shocked me and highlighted how important this is. My client Margaret, lives in the family home and has been on a disability pension for many years.  Her father suffers from Alzheimer’s Dementia and has been in care since July this year, in a facility where Margaret had signed an agreement to pay a (RAD) Refundable Accommodation Deposit of $550,000.  The Centrelink form submitted for her father showed assets of $90,000 (excluding the family home) which put him into the partially supported category.
Margaret and her brother, with advice from their solicitor and accountant, were going to sell the family home (valued at just over $1M) and use $550,000 from the proceeds to pay the RAD to the facility, and use rest of the proceeds to purchase a smaller home for Margaret to live in.

Margaret soon realised that the current facility was unable to meet her father’s care needs as he needed a dementia secure facility. She was referred to me by a carer to look for alternative and more suitable accommodation. When Margaret told me the plan to sell the family home the following Saturday I was completely shocked! Although I am not a financial planner I do understand the rules around aged care legislation.  I referred Margaret immediately to an Aged Care Specialist Financial Planner and his first response was to take the property off the market as he understood the consequences for the father and Margaret would not be good if they followed their plan.
Firstly, the house is a ‘protected’ asset as Margaret has been living there for over five years on a Centrelink Pension. Margaret did not have the authority to purchase another property with funds from the sale of her father’s property while he is residing in aged care, even though she had Power of Attorney, as it would not be deemed as using his money for a purpose from which he will benefit, as the law decrees.  Secondly, the assets from the property sale would be attributed to her father resulting in him losing most or all of his pension. As he was already deemed a partially supported resident he could not pay more for his accommodation. Thirdly, Margaret would have nowhere to live!
The story has a happy ending as I was able to find accommodation in a dementia wing of a lovely facility with her father as a partially supported resident and NOT paying a RAD. Margaret had been badly advised about paying the RAD as well, and she now knows she is entitled to live in the family home for the rest of her life.  It was a close call.

Moving Into Aged Care Can Bring Up Issues

Aged Care Suite

Aged Care Suite

When a family member needs to go into Aged Care it can bring up a lot of issues for the whole family. Different people deal with a situation in different ways, so it is realistic to assume that when a family is faced with a parent going into care, each member will deal with the situation in a different way.  Some may be accepting and realistic while others may fight against the process for their own reasons, being unable or unwilling to accept that this needs to happen. These differing attitudes have the potential to create turmoil within the family dynamic. Sometimes, when family members cannot agree, they place their loved one at risk and then a Guardian is appointed by VCAT. I have worked with many Guardians over the years and, though their first duty is to the person, they will always try to involve the family as much as possible, seeking constructive input but at the same time diffusing heated situations.

Grief can play a large part as well for both the parent going into care and the family members. Fortunately, there are counsellors trained to deal specifically with these situations. Often families will seek specialised counsellors to help the person going into care deal with their grief, which is sometimes taken out on their children. Some residents rail against their children for “locking them away”, which is very distressing for the families who have no other options. It brings to mind one resident I knew in a facility who would rant and rave at her daughter each time she visited, then smile and return to activities as though nothing had happened once her daughter had left in tears. Her daughter was a very “together” person but this brought her undone every time she visited over two years!

Another source of grief and stress is the need to sell the family home. After living in the home for most of their life, raising their family and working hard to pay it off it is like losing a loved one to sell up in order to move to into an Aged Care Facility. As mentioned in a previous blog it is well worth seeking advice from a Financial Planner who specialises in Aged Care to assess whether there are enough other assets to cover costs without selling the home. In my experience as an Aged Care Placement Consultant most clients do have to sell their homes, but it is still important to know their financial position prior to making decisions about suitable facilities.  There are so many variable costs, such as cost of the room, a means tested fee and additional services charge to consider.

Being aware of the emotional upheavals this change in life circumstances can cause I am ready to refer clients and their families to appropriate professional support during the time I work with them as a Placement Consultant.

An Appalling Case of Financial Abuse Of The Elderly

Donald Ross

Donald Ross

It is appalling how some elderly people are misused. Take the case of Donald Ross, a charming, elderly gentleman who lived with a friend that was his carer for many years in Don’s home in Melbourne. The friend/carer eventually had three children and the house became cramped. The solution was to send Don to live in a unit on the other side of town and the friend/carer stayed on in Don’s home with his young family.  The financial arrangement they made was that the friend/carer paid all the rates and charges on Don’s home and the rent for the unit Don was living in.

It wasn’t until Don was being evicted from his home that he realised his friend/carer was not paying rent on the unit or the rates and charges on his house. Don went to Elder Abuse who assisted him to hire a lawyer and a financial organisation to take over his finances and act as his Power Of Attorney. The lawyer found a supported residence where Don could live indefinitely. Unfortunately, as Don has been deaf since birth, his only means of communication was via email and this residence was in an internet ‘black spot’ which could not be fixed, making communication very difficult for Don.

The legal proceedings were lengthy, but eventually the former carer and his family were evicted and Don’s home was sold for a good sum.  This enabled Don his choice of living options in Melbourne and I assisted him to find a lovely, low care facility with a large room, magnificent views and great staff. He is extremely happy with his decision and I still visit him, as he has no living relatives. Read his testimonial.

It is now the recommendation of the Department of Ageing that people entering care should seek the advice of an Aged Care Financial Specialist. In my experience there have been very few clients who would not have benefitted from sound financial advice.  Unfortunately the one-off fee can put people off, even though the right advice could save them money and knowledge of the ongoing cost of care and how long their money will last.