In a couple of months, the way we access aged care support in Australia will change. From July 1, 2015 all new entrants into aged care services, or those needing to access higher levels of support, will progress through the My Aged Care pathway.
Because accessing My Aged Care relies on using an internet based portal or telephone screening, there has been some confusion over how this will be handled for people living out bush or for those people who have English as a second language. Many of the elderly living in remote communities don’t have phones, let alone a computer to access the portal.
There has also been some confusion over the roles of the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) and the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). So let me try to assist in clarifying some of these issues by simply explaining the intake process as described in the Department of Social Services flow chart.
Let’s take an example client; we’ll call her Molly.
Molly lives on a community with her family. She needs some help from the aged care program to stay living independently at home.
Molly goes to the aged care service to talk about the help she needs. The aged care coordinator tells Molly she has to register with ‘My Aged Care’ if she wants to receive aged care services. Molly needs to do this by calling them on the phone; the coordinator can help Molly do this.
Molly speaks to a person from the My Aged Care call centre and tells them her name, date of birth and Medicare number.
The call centre assessor asks some basic questions to find out what sort of help Molly might need.
Based on Molly's answers, if she only needs a small amount of help, perhaps meals or laundry, she may be referred to the aged care program directly and may be able to start getting help straight away. The aged care service just needs to receive the referral from My Aged Care before they can start providing assistance.
If the call centre assessor is not sure of how much help Molly will need, they will refer her to either the:
- Regional Assessment Service (RAS) who are the assessors for accessing help through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme,
- Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) if Molly has lots of complex health problems or support needs. Molly may then be eligible to receive care through a Home Care Package or residential care.