A common question about respite care is whether you need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT, or as it is known in Victoria, ACAS) to enter respite care. The short answer is that, yes, you do need an assessment to enter any aged care home as a resident - even for short term stays.
In this article, we are going to explain the process of arranging and undergoing an ACAS assessment for respite care. We will also answer some common questions about respite care.
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What is an ACAT/ACAS?
When you can no longer live at home without needing assistance for daily tasks, you can undergo an ACAT/S assessment to access aged care home service in future. In this assessment, you and your carer will go through a process of identifying what kind of care is best suited to your needs — both now and in the future. Victoria refers to an ACAT as an ACAS - which stands for Aged Care Assessment Service. No matter what they are called, an ACAT and ACAS are the same service.
- You can arrange an ACAT/S with your doctor, healthcare professional, social worker, or aged care home.
- An ACAT/S assessment will determine what type of care and support you need to ensure your needs are met with dignity and autonomy.
- Your ACAT/S assessment will ensure that when you do engage with a respite care provider that your specific needs are catered to, and that you receive the appropriate level of care.
Even if you intend to stay in your home with your carer as support for the majority of the time, an ACAS assessment is an essential requirement to enter an aged care home for respite care.
Common questions about ACAT/S assessments
How do I know when I need an ACAT/S assessment?
You may be fully able to live in your own home with your carer as support. But if you and your carer have determined that you will at some point rely on respite care within an aged care home, you will need an ACAS assessment as part of the requirements of entry.
How much is an ACAT/S assessment?
These assessments are government-funded, which means that there is no charge associated with the service.
What will happen in my ACAT/S assessment?
When you have arranged your assessment you will be visited at home or in the hospital to assess your current needs and make recommendations.
- ACAT/S teams consist of medical and allied health professionals who are trained to assess your physical, mental, cultural, and social needs.
- Your ACAT/S team will work with you to identify what is the appropriate level of support for your personal and mental wellbeing.
A member of your ACAT/S team will come and see you where you will be asked some questions to work out what kind of care you require with your daily and personal activities. If you have a carer engaged currently, you should consider involving them in this discussion as they may be able to provide clarification around your needs. You might also wish to involve family members or support persons to ensure you present the fullest possible picture.
What kinds of questions will be asked in my ACAT/S assessment?
You will be asked questions about your daily needs. This might include questions about:
- Your medical history
- Any current living arrangements
- Support networks and current carer arrangements
- Daily support required currently, such as help with showering and dressing, or assistance with shopping
- Whether you have any cultural or social activities that you would like to continue with/be involved in
- What types of local aged care home options are available in your local area
What type of outcome will I get from my ACAT/S?
Once your assessment has been completed you will receive your results via letter. If your ACAT/S has assessed that you are eligible for aged care home services you will provide your results letter to the aged care homes you are applying for. You will have a referral code in your letter, and your chosen service provider will use this code to access your information.
How soon do I need to get an ACAT/S assessment?
You never know when you might need respite care — for example, an emergency situation may arise which means you need to access care in a hurry. It is best to have respite care established and an aged care home selected well in advance of any estimates.