There is a new system in town. On the outside it looks like it will aid those looking for residential aged care, it will make it easier to access facilities it will all be done on-line, your details sent to providers who will offer you a place in their facility and you just have to wait for the phone to ring. Wonderful! Or is it?
The system I’m talking about is the new referral system to a provider after you have been assessed by ACAS. You no longer have to take your health and care needs summary (Aged Care Client Record) to facilities to see if they can offer you a place. It can be all on-line, you now have choices. Choices are good, but only if you understand the consequences of these choices. Let me explain.
To access a residential aged care facility you will need to contact the My Aged Care Contact Centre. They will ask you a few questions and will refer you to an Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS in Vic ACAT elsewhere in Australia) for a comprehensive assessment. Once this assessment is completed you will be issued an approval letter which will indicate your approval for residential aged care and will include a referral code (your unique number). This code is what the residential aged care provider will need in order to access your comprehensive assessment which includes your care needs. Providers need this assessment to see if they can take care of you in their facility.
Sounds straight forward so far? So far it is. At the end of the assessment you will be given a choice of three ways to contact residential aged care providers.
- The first is “do it yourself”. This is how it used to be done. You get your approval letter and a referral code and off you go to search for a facility. When you find a facility you like you will give the referral code to the provider and they will use this code to download your comprehensive assessment and see if they can manage your care needs. They will then have a conversation with you about the fees and RAD they will charge and if you decide this is the place for you, they then “accept” your referral and you are taken off the referral system. If they have a vacancy you will be given a residential agreement and a move in day. If they don’t have a vacancy you will go on their wait list and you will wait till a bed comes up.
- The second is called “electronic referral”. This is the process whereby you have already decided which facilities you want, you give that list to the ACAS and your referral is sent directly to that list and that list only. It is up to the facility to accept your referral. Once they accept your referral they are given your contact details and they will contact you to discuss your care needs and the services they offer and the costs involved. They will either offer you a bed or put you on the waitlist. Again once a facility accepts your referral you are off the referral system that means no one else can access your comprehensive assessment or your contact details.
- The final choice is an “electronic broadcast”. This is when you choose an area you want to find a facility and a general broadcast referral is sent to all facilities in that area. Then you just have to wait for a facility to look at your summary, accept the referral and then they have your contact details to call.
Which one would you choose? Let me give you one more piece of information that might affect your choice. Once a facility accepts your referral you are off the referral system. This means no other facility can access your assessment or offer you a bed even if you want them to. If you don’t want a bed in the facility that accepts your referral then the facility has to put your name back into the system before another facility can offer you a place. At the moment there is very little you can do about following up your referrals. You won’t know if a facility has “accepted” your referral and just hasn’t contacted you yet or if no-one has accepted your referral and for what reason. Or if a facility that has accepted your referral and doesn’t have a suitable place for you and they have not put your name back into the system. So what looks like an easy path means you lose control and worse than that if, the phone doesn’t ring you won’t know why.
You will always want a way to follow up on your application especially if you need a placement urgently. Our advice is to “do it yourself” keep control of your referral code, don’t rely on the system to do it for you.
If you have had an assessment done or are about to have one and you want to understand the consequences of your choices then give Into Aged Care a call. We can help.