How to Prepare for Your ACAT Assessment
Understanding how to prepare for a face-to-face ACAT assessment can help streamline the process and ensure you receive the appropriate aged care services. In this article, we will provide practical advice on preparing for your assessment to ensure you get the most out of this crucial process.
In this article:
The purpose of an ACAT assessment
The purpose of ACAT assessments is to evaluate an individual's care needs and eligibility for aged care services.
Conducted by experienced professionals such as nurses, social workers, and occupational therapists, the assessment considers an individual's health, mobility, and social circumstances - helping to develop a personalized care plan that aligns with their goals and preferences.
How to prepare for the ACAT assessment
1. Gather relevant documents and medical history from GPs and specialists
To ensure a comprehensive evaluation, compile documents and a list of relevant information to take with you, including:
• Medicare card
• Another form of ID (such as driver’s licence or passport)
• Healthcare card (if you have one)
• Veteran Card (DVA card, if you have one)
• From your GP and other specialists:
- Medical history (such as chronic conditions, allergies and therapies you are undertaking)
- List of medications
- Any other supporting information
• Contact information from:
- Emergency contact
- Your general practitioner
- Any other health professionals involved in your care.
• List of existing support services the person receives (such as home care or respite care).
• List of daily activities with which the person needs assistance with (such as dressing and mobility).
• Any preferences they might have on the type of care they would like to receive, specific services of interest or preferred providers and residential aged care homes.
If you have someone representing you, their Medicare, another form of ID Card and their address and contact details).
2. Reflect on your goals and priorities. Write them down for the ACAT team.
What aspects of your life you would like to improve with the help of aged care services? This may include:
• Maintaining or improving your independence.
• Remaining in your home for as long as possible.
• Addressing particular health concerns or managing chronic conditions and medication more effectively.
• Addressing difficulties with daily living activities and mobility at home and in the community.
• Strengthening social connections or seeking new activities within your community.
3. Consult with family members, carers and close friends
Close friends and family may offer valuable insights to facilitate informed decisions about the individual’s care needs, as well as emotional support and encouragement. Make sure to communicate openly about the ACAT assessment.
4. Prepare a list of questions for the ACAT Assessor
The ACAT assessment is a useful opportunity to ask questions and gain information about the available services and support. Prepare a list of questions for your assessor regarding:
• Your eligibility for specific services.
• The cost of care or financial assistance available.
• The process of accessing care services.
• Any other concerns you may have about your aged care journey.
During the assessment, don't hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification if something is unclear. The assessor is there to assist you.
5. Know Your Rights
Understanding your rights throughout the ACAT assessment process will help you feel more confident and informed. Key rights you should be aware of include:
• The right to involve an advocate: You are entitled to have someone attend the assessment with you, be it a family member, carer, or other representative, to help you navigate the procedure.
• The right to a fair and unbiased assessment: If you are unhappy with the assessment outcome, the letter provided after your assessment explains how you can apply for a review.
On the day of the assessment
Who can attend the ACAT assessment
• A support person – You are encouraged to have a friend, family member or carer present during your assessment. They can offer moral support, assistance in recalling important details and provide an extra perspective on your care needs and requirements.
• A proxy - It is also possible to have someone else attend the meeting in place of the applicant if health issues are a concern. If this is the case, the proxy will be required to provide their Medicare and contact details as well.
How long the ACAT assessment takes
In most cases, an ACAT Assessment will take between 45 and 90 minutes. Assessors can then take up to two weeks to complete their report which will be posted to you.
Where the ACAT assessment takes place
The ACAT Assessment takes place wherever you are located at the time you need to be assessed.
• Wherever you are located – preferably in the comfort of your own home, but it could also be in hospital, rehabilitation centre or residential aged care facility if that’s where you are. The assessor will observe your level of independence, functioning, and existing support arrangements in familiar surroundings.
• Telehealth - where face-to-face contact is not possible, a teleconference, video conference or telehealth assessment may be undertaken. Another suitably qualified person (such as a local health worker) may attend the assessment with the client.
What happens during the ACAT assessment
The questions asked by the assessor will help create a comprehensive understanding of your care needs to determine appropriate aged care services. It is important to provide honest and detailed responses to ensure an accurate assessment.
The assessor will look at:
• Your current living situation.
• Your health and medical needs (physical and cognitive).
• Your physical needs (such as mobility and how well you can perform day-to-day activities).
• Your social and emotional needs.
If the assessment is taking place at your home, your assessor may suggest walking around your home together so that they can see what challenges you may be facing and make recommendations.
You might be asked about:
• Things you can do for yourself versus things that you find more difficult and need assistance with.
• Your health, wellbeing, and lifestyle.
• Your medications, dosage, and how you manage them.
• Your balance and mobility.
• Safety concerns or risks related to falls, accidents, or home environment.
• What you and your family are most concerned about now and for the future.
• Your social activities, hobbies, and interests.
• Any emotional or psychological concerns, such as feelings of loneliness or depression.
• Any formal or informal support you currently receive from family, friends, or community services.
• Your expectations and goals regarding your future care and support.
• Any specific preferences or considerations for the type of aged care services you may require.
Related article: Questions you might be asked during your ACAT Assessment
The assessors will also discuss your eligibility for different funding types and provide guidance about funding options, including any associated costs or fees.
Related article: Common funding types associated with an ACAT assessment
Ask questions during the ACAT assessment
Don't hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification if something is unclear. The assessor is there to assist you and provide the necessary information. Understanding the available aged care services, associated costs, and eligibility criteria will help you make informed decisions.
Do you need a translator or Auslan interpreter?
Contact your assessor and they can make arrangements for you. For Auslan interpreter services, you can book an interpreter via the National Auslan Booking Service.
After the ACAT assessment
Once the ACAT Assessment is complete, the assessor will let you know the outcome in writing. It can take up to two weeks for assessors to complete their report, which will be posted to you.
The report will specify:
• funding type you may be eligible for.
• aged care services that you are eligible for and any conditions they come with.
• level of care depending on the intensity and complexity of care required.
• reasons for the decision with specific evidence.
• information about your right to appeal the decision.
• a name and contact number to call if you wish to discuss the decision.
• information about service providers in your area.
• a copy of your Aged Care Client Record.
• information about the Aged Care Complaints Scheme.
If you are assessed as eligible:
• You will be placed on the government’s national waiting list until you are assigned a package.
• This is prioritised based on the assessed care needs.
• Higher-level care needs receive priority.
• You will receive another letter when you are assigned a package. It outlines things like costs and fees, and how your services will be provided.
• The letter will also include a unique referral code.
In most cases, it is not possible to proceed in your search for a subsidised Residential Aged Care Facility or In-Home Care service until you have received your unique referral code. If you need services while you wait, contact us on 1800 448 448.
If you’re eligible for a Home Care Package or residential aged care, you may need an income assessment. This will determine how much you’ll pay towards your services or accommodation costs. It’s not something that you need to have completed by the time of your assessment.
Preparing adequately for your ACAT assessment will lay the foundation for a smooth transition into the aged care system that best meets your needs. Make sure to gather all relevant documents and information, reflect on your goals and priorities, involve your family and friends, prepare questions for your assessor, and understand your rights. By following the steps outlined above, you'll be well-equipped to take control of your aged care journey.