Why does it feel like everybody wants to know how much mum has in the bank or what her house is worth? Why do I need to tell anybody about the money mum lent to her nephew? Shouldn’t we be talking about mum’s care needs and keeping her safe?………….

Unfortunately, this kind of conversation needs to be had when you start looking at accommodation options for your loved one.  If mum (for example) is entering into permanent care, the government wants to know about her financial status.  The facility wants to know how much she can afford to pay and you need to know what she can afford, now and into the future.

The cold, hard truth about entering aged care these days is that it is a “user pays” environment.  Everybody these days must pay, whatever they can afford to pay, towards their aged care costs.

As placement consultants we try to have these conversations with our clients as early as possible, so that our client knows what to expect.

Aged care facilities charge the resident Basic Daily Fees, Means Tested Fees, Accommodation Fees and sometimes also Extra Service Fees.  The Basic Daily Fees are paid by everybody and are not negotiable and if you choose a facility that charges Extra Service Fees you also have to pay these (although they can sometimes be negotiable).  However, the Means Tested Fee is defined by Centrelink based on your assets and income and the outcome of this assessment will also be a guide as to how much you can pay towards your Accommodation Fees.  So, all of this information does need to be discussed in order to determine what type of facility you can actually afford to live in.

In addition to all of this, to complicate matters further, facilities will often consider a potential resident’s level of care needs to determine the amount of government funding that they will attract.  This means that a person with lower level care needs may not be as “attractive” to a facility in terms of funding, even where this person is able to pay a sizeable Accommodation Payment.

All of this is quite unsavoury and can be very confronting.  As placement consultants we have conversations about these issues regularly with our clients and it is awkward for us too.  We understand that revealing personal financial matters can feel uncomfortable and it seems to be so irrelevant to the desired outcome of finding a suitable facility for a loved one.

At the end of the day, aged care facilities are businesses and they need to make money.  Remember that at the same time you are considering if a facility is attractive in terms of it’s location, services, affordability, etc…..the facility is also assessing you in terms of your ability to contribute financially and the government funding that you will attract.

So, if you have engaged a placement consultant to assist you with your search, please try not to feel offended by such conversations, because part of our job actually is “marketing” your loved one to give you the widest range of most appropriate options in a timely fashion.