WHAT is an ACAT (aged care assessment team) assessment; WHY is it important and WHO needs it?
Understanding the ACAT assessment
One way of understanding ACAT is to compare it to the analogy of having a passport to travel overseas. If you don’t have a passport, you must get one OR you will miss out on the holiday.
When you are not traveling, your passport doesn’t have as much value, apart from its use as back-up identification. If you don’t have your passport but urgently need to travel overseas, it can be overwhelming to try to quickly apply for a passport – getting a new photo, filling out the forms, lodging the application, waiting for the passport to be mailed or organising for collection… It’s about this time that many people in this situation start to wonder why they didn’t plan ahead.
Avoid overwhelming by starting early
With all this in mind, it can be helpful to think of an ACAT assessment as your passport to accessing government-funded services including home care services, respite care, transition care and entry to residential aged care. Just like a passport, if you don’t have your ACAT assessment at a time that you need it, you cannot access any of these services until it’s completed.
Just like emergency travel, you don’t usually plan for events to occur that warrant the need for home care or aged care services as these might be instigated by sudden illness, injury or loss of capacity or health issues that slowly creep up on us and take us by surprise.
Similar to leaving a passport to the last minute you will usually have so many other things that you would rather focus on. You are likely to find that this additional mandatory process of obtaining an ACAT assessment at a time of crisis to be an unnecessarily frustrating and overwhelming experience that you would have rather avoided.
Consider the waiting game in your preparations
It is important to also remember that access to home care services and support is never guaranteed to occur at the time you need it. There are wait lists and priority ratings (based on need as determined by the assessor) that will dictate the time from approval to the time of allocation. These times can be in excess of 12 months, so delaying this assessment when you know you need it is not doing yourself any favours.
Remember, you always have the option to pay to receive your own care at home by licensed providers and you do not need to wait for the government package to be assigned if you wish to remain in your home and have the ability to fund these costs personally.
Seek an advocate if needed
A common misconception regarding ACAT assessments is that if you’re honest in your responses and it’s recognised that you need help, you may be forced into care without your consent before you feel ready. If you have capacity, you cannot be forced to enter residential care without your consent. If you find yourself in this situation please seek assistance and an advocate.
We’re here to help you make informed decisions for yourself or your loved ones
For more information on ACAT assessments and managing your aged care options, contact the Rethink Aged Care team on 4962 4440, or you fill out our Pre-appointment Questionnaire here and one of the team will be in touch. We’re a team of trusted, highly-skilled and accredited aged care professionals based in Newcastle and would love to see how we can help you take control of your financial future.
Aged Care information sessions
We hold a number of small group information sessions throughout the year to support carers facing the increasing Aged Care needs of a family member or loved one. These loved ones are commonly moving into the phase of life where they need strategic advice before they start looking to sell assets, or deciding on a facility or home care option.
Even if you have already taken steps towards one of these options, there is great value in attending one of our Aged Care information sessions to better understand how your plans will fully impact your family members or loved ones. To find out more head here or get in touch with our Rethink Aged Care team here.