Prepare to get the most from your ACAS assessment
What is involved in an aged care assessment?
Talking about changing needs, and seeking help with living at home, can be a bewildering and stressful experience for seniors. When undertaking an aged care assessment, the clinician needs to hear all of a senior’s concerns so they can recommend all the services needed. It’s not a time for your senior loved one to ‘grin and bear it’, or they might miss out on valuable help. Being prepared and having an advocate in the process is vital to getting approved for the right supports, which directly impacts the services and amount of funding seniors may receive.
What is an ACAS assessment?
The Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of a senior’s current health status, physical, mental and social needs to determine what aged care services will benefit them. It’s used to decide if an older person is eligible for a Home Care Package and the amount of funding received in addition to providing pre-approval paperwork for an aged care facility on a planned or emergency basis. You will be provided with a copy of the ACAS assessment, which is referred to as a ‘support plan’.
You can get an ACAS assessment by calling My Aged Care directly. But keep in mind what’s involved, or rather, what’s not.
- An ACAS assessment is just the assessment. If approved for a Home Care Package, seniors and their families must then seek out a provider to deliver the package from the hundreds available.
- The assessment covers several areas of a senior’s wellbeing, and it’s very common for seniors and families to not raise some concerns if they feel it's not relevant. But… this can mean you miss out on services, or you may not receive a level of funding you are entitled to, if the assessor does not know the full story.
Having an advocate to help you arrange and prepare for the ACAS, and provide follow-up action, will help seniors get the biggest benefit from the assessment.
After the assessment, seniors are provided with a support plan outlining if a client has been approved for a Home Care Package and, if so, what level.
- The Home Care Package level relates to the amount of funding an individual receives from the government.
- If you are not eligible for a Home Care package, you can still access services under the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP).
We can help you to arrange these services as it’s often tricky for seniors or their supporting family to go through My Aged Care to find providers and activate services.
An independent home care advocate like Empower Aged Care can carry out a Holistic Aged Care Assessment and also take the next steps of referring to My Aged Care and speaking with the ACAS service. We can also arrange services under the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), including activating referral codes and speaking with providers, so everything starts without a hitch!
It’s important for an advocate to be involved to guide and support this process, to ensure seniors are approved for the right home care services, as this directly impacts the funding that seniors can receive. Seniors won’t know to ask for help if they don’t know about home care services that could benefit them.
What’s the difference between ACAS, ACAT and RAS?
ACAS and ACAT are the same service.
ACAS: Community based Aged Care Assessment Service: used in Victoria. (This is the one we talk about as we serve clients in Melbourne and Geelong.)
ACAT: Aged Care Assessment Team: used around Australia, excluding Victoria.
To recap from our earlier post about reviewing your assessment, the two types of assessments provided through My Aged Care are:
RAS – Regional Assessment Service. These are assessments to determine the need/eligibility for ‘entry level’ services funded under the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) such as cleaning and shopping assistance. Such services do not come with case management and RAS cannot approve for a Home Care Package.
ACAS – Aged Care Assessment Service. This is generally what is referred to when people talk about an Aged Care Assessment. Seniors need to have one of these assessments in order to be approved for a Home Care Package and / or have pre-approval paperwork for an aged care facility.
Empower Aged Care’s Holistic Aged Care Assessment is more comprehensive than an ACAS assessment, with the added benefit of following through on the recommendations. We carry out the referral to My Aged Care, liaise with providers and arrange the home care services for you.
How to prepare for an ACAS assessment
Seniors need to gather important records and be ready to discuss key aspects of their wellbeing with the health professional conducting the assessment. Families often help with getting this information together.
Seniors can have anyone they’d like to be with them for support during the session. Consider the value of having an independent home care advocate help your family navigate this process.
We often find older people say “things are going really well at home”, when they could be accessing support they don’t realise is there. Seniors, and their families too, need to be quite honest about what’s happening. Not speaking up in the assessment can mean missing out on financial assistance for home care.
The assessment process follows guidelines set out in Commonwealth legislation on aged care and you can prepare to discuss these aspects of a senior’s wellbeing:
Health and medical needs
- Gather your senior’s medical records that show current treatments for health conditions, medications and any other health concerns.
Mobility and physical needs
- Consider how well your senior can move around and do ordinary day to day activities, including personal care at home and doing shopping and appointments out and about.
Mental health and psychological needs
- Seniors will be urged to reflect on how they’re feeling, any worries for the future and any experience of depression or mental illness.
- Think about your senior’s social network, whether there are friends and family around to give support and if they’re able to continue participating in the social activities and hobbies they enjoy.
Learning about a senior’s lifestyle and wellbeing will enable the assessor to give guidance on the home care services that could support your senior loved one’s healthy living at home. Seniors need to feel confident to interact with the assessing clinician, ask questions and explain their views and concerns.
The aged care assessment can determine what funding someone gets approved for to pay for home care services. If the assessor doesn’t get the full story because a senior and their family don’t have the experience to advocate for themselves, the senior client is likely to get a worse outcome than they’d hoped.
At Empower Aged Care:
- We work alongside families to empower our senior clients to have their important needs met with the right home care services.
- We spend time getting to know seniors and their families so we can advocate for their needs throughout the whole process.
- We apply our extensive experience in assessing, finding, and arranging home care services to get the best outcome for seniors.
What happens after your ACAS assessment
The assessment determines if a senior person is eligible for a Home Care Package (HCP) and the level approved. A Home Care Package ranges from level 1, approx. $8,000 per annum in government funding, to level 4, approx. $53,000 per annum in government funding. The amount of funding can be quite significant which is why it’s important to get it right from the outset with the support of an advocate.
Eligible for a Home Care Package?
You’ll be informed in writing about the services you’ve been approved for, including if approved for a Home Care Package.
- You’ll be placed on the national waiting list and receive letters from My Aged Care regarding your place in the queue and when your Home Care Package is ready.
- When your Home Care Package is ready you'll need to select a third party known as a ‘provider’ to deliver it. You can search for government-approved providers in your area on the My Aged Care website.
Waiting lists can be up to 6-12 months. And then you’d be choosing from over 100 HCP providers in Melbourne. Our Home Care Package Advice service can help. Note if you are a self-funded retiree or part pensioner you may need to make a financial contribution to the cost of the Home Care Package which is referred to as an income-tested fee. The income-tested fee is determined by Centrelink’s income assessment.
Not eligible for a Home Care Package, but home care services might help?
You can still access services under the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), once you are approved for care via My Aged Care. Or you could pay for services privately. You can see which government-approved providers are available in your approved area for CHSP services on the My Aged Care website. You could also do some internet searches and seek recommendations from your network, to find home care services to suit your needs.
Empower Aged Care is able to assist in setting up these home care services.
Turning your home care assessment into action
Having an independent home care advocate like Empower Aged Care complete a Holistic Aged Care Assessment will save you time, stress and the pain of realising you’d missed out on funding for valuable services you didn’t know about. We can let you know what services you are likely to be eligible for and make all the arrangements.
My Aged Care is a broad-ranging intake point for government-funded aged care services, funnelled through a call centre, and working out which things are relevant to you, and how to make the most of the assessment’s recommendations, can be quite challenging. It really helps to know what you’re doing.
We’ve done these assessments, and connected seniors up with the services that meet their needs, for years. We advocate for our clients’ needs when liaising with My Aged Care on their behalf.
Don’t worry about trying to work out the ‘system’ because we will simplify it for you.
- meet you in your own home to determine what you are eligible for and make recommendations specific to your situation
- complete a referral to My Aged Care
- liaise with My Aged Care on your behalf to ensure you receive the right assessment and are approved for the right services
- also liaise with service providers to get home care services started.
If this sounds like something you or your senior loved one needs, then get in touch to book a Holistic Aged Care Assessment by calling 0404 444 985.