ACAT Assessment – Everything You Need to Know

The Aged Care Assessment Team makes recommendations about the most suitable care for older people based on an ACAT assessment. These assessments are part of a process that aims to provide older people with the support they need.

What is an ACAT assessment?

An ACAT assessment is a comprehensive assessment carried out by a member of the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT in NSW, or ACAS in Victoria). This assessment is required before a person can be approved for government subsidised aged care assistance, including:

  • A nursing home
  • Home care
  • Residential aged care (including respite)
  • Transition care
  • Short-term restorative care

The assessment is used by Aged Care Assessment Teams to determine what type and level of care is needed for the older person.

Do I need an ACAT assessment?

An ACAT assessment is required before you can receive any government subsidised aged care, including moving into an Aged Care Facility or receiving care at home. You will need the assessment to determine whether you are eligible for care as well as what type of care you will need.

You do not need the assessment for aged care services that are not government funded.

Who is eligible for an ACAT assessment

Those who are 65 years of age or older are eligible for an ACAT assessment. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, you need to be 50 years or older.

If you meet this criteria you can apply through the My Aged Care portal.

What if I don’t meet the assessment criteria?

If you do not meet the age criteria but you have care needs that are not offered by other specialist services, you should call My Aged Care (1800 200 422) to discuss your situation. You may still be eligible if you:

  • Are living with dementia or a disability
  • Are earning a very low income
  • Currently are or are at risk of becoming homeless

What can I expect during an ACAT assessment

An ACAT assessment involves looking at all the elements of your circumstances and determining your individual care needs. The person conducting the assessment will talk to you about factors including:

  • Your health and medical history as well as any potential future health concerns
  • Your physical requirements – can you complete daily activities (like shopping, showering and preparing meals) without assistance
  • Your psychological needs – whether you have experienced depression or mental illness and how you are feeling in general
  • Your social needs and support networks
  • Any special needs or concerns such as language issues, religious beliefs or cultural needs

Who is on an Aged Care Assessment Team?

The Aged Care Assessment Team is made up of health professionals with different skill sets who are stationed all around Australia. Each team usually contains at least one nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and social worker. There are over 180 ACAT teams across Australia.

How to prepare for an ACAT assessment

You can have a family member or friend with you for support, so you should think about who you would like this to be beforehand. You don’t have to go through this process alone.

You will need to prepare some documents for the assessor, including:

  • Medicare card
  • A form of ID such as a driver’s license or passport
  • Contact details and referrals from your doctor or any other health professionals that you see
  • Any other relevant medical information

Questions to ask your assessor

This is also an opportunity for you to prepare any questions that you may have about the kind of support that will be offered to you. You may want to ask:

  • What services are available and are there any related costs or conditions?
  • What are the wait times like for a place in each service?
  • Are there options available to cater for any specific needs that you may have, e.g. cultural requirements or language barriers?
  • How long will it take to get a report of the assessment?
  • What are the options if you wish to challenge the result of the report?

This assessment is meant to help you get the level of service that you need, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you like. You need to be happy with the care that you’re receiving.

Can I have someone with me?

Yes, you can have someone with you if you would like. You can ask a family member or friend to be with you or another person that you trust.

You can also request a translator if necessary. Ask your assessor about this when you book your appointment.

The Older Persons Advocacy Network is a free service that can provide information and assistance to all Australians seeking or receiving aged care services.

What to expect after the ACAT assessment

You will be provided with the outcome of the assessment in writing, and this letter will specify:

  • What services you have been approved for and whether they have any conditions
  • The reasons for the decision (including specific evidence and examples)
  • Information about how to appeal the decision if you are not happy with it, and a name and contact number to discuss it further
  • A support plan

You will also be given a number of documents that you should keep in your possession, including:

  • Information about Service Providers in your area
  • A copy of your Aged Care Client Record
  • Information about making a complaint (The Aged Care Complaints Scheme)

You may not be able to access the services that you’ve been approved for straightaway, as there may still be wait times associated with the availability of government funded providers. Wait times can range from a few weeks to a few months.

acat assessment

Frequently asked questions About ACAT Assessments

How long does it take to find out if I’m eligible for services?

You will usually find out the outcome of your eligibility at the assessment. If this is the case, your assessor will discuss your results with you and talk to you about what home or residential care options are available in your area.

For some services, the assessor will need a few weeks to review the information presented at your assessment. You will receive the outcome in the form of a letter within two to six weeks.

What happens after I’m assessed as eligible for services?

If you are eligible, your assessor can help you find services or contacts for service providers in your area. They can also refer you directly to local providers if you are able to discuss your care needs yourself. They can also provide you with a referral code so that you can find the services yourself if that suits you.

If you have any questions after your assessment, you can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

What if I’m unhappy with the assessment results?

The decision to accept or reject a recommendation is ultimately yours.

The first step you should take if you are unhappy with the outcome is to talk with the person in charge – either the assessor or the decision-maker.

If you cannot come to an agreement, you can appeal the decision by writing to the Secretary of the Australian Department of Health within 28 days of receiving the assessment letter. Asking for a review with this service is free and the request will be answered within 90 days.

If you need to escalate the matter further, you can contact the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, but you will need to pay for this.

How much does an ACAT Assessment cost?

An ACAT Assessment is government funded, so it will be free of charge.

How long does an ACAT assessment take?

The assessment itself will take between 45 and 75 minutes. It will then usually take two weeks for the report to be mailed to you, but it can take up to six weeks. You will have to wait until you receive the report before you can proceed with your search for Aged Care Services.

Where can I get an ACAT assessment?

The ACAT Assessment will usually take place in your own home, but it can be done in a hospital or rehabilitation centre if necessary.

Organising and preparing for an ACAT Assessment can be an overwhelming process, particularly if you are arranging it on your own. The experienced staff at Kew Gardens are happy to offer support in any way they can. Contact us today using our online form or call us on (03) 9261 8600 to reach out for assistance.

Feb 25, 2022