1. What could I be charged to become a resident at a Hunter Valley Care facility?
There is no simple answer to this question as your costs may vary according to:
- your date of entry into a facility;
- your income and assets at that point;
- whether or not you are a pensioner; and
- the level of care you need, for example, low level or high level residential aged care.
2. What types of costs are there?
There are two main types of payments that residents of an aged care facility may incur:
1. Daily Fees – Calculated according to your income.
Daily fees contribute towards your daily living costs, such as nursing and personal care, provision of meals, linen and laundry, as well as heating and cooling.
Daily fees have two parts:
- A Basic Daily Fee that everyone pays; and
- An Income-Tested Fee that applies if you receive income above a certain amount.
2. Accommodation Payments – Calculated according to your assets.
You may be asked to make an Accommodation Payment if your assets are more than a certain amount as set by the Australian Government. This payment contributes towards the costs of your accommodation.
The Accommodation Payment is agreed with the facility before you sign the Resident Agreement and prior to entry. The payment will be in the form of either:
- An Accommodation Bond – If you are entering low level care or Extra Services accommodation with low level and/or high level care;
- An Accommodation Charge – If you are in high level care.
You cannot be asked to pay both an Accommodation Bond and an Accommodation Charge at the same time. You cannot be asked to pay an Accommodation Bond if you are receiving Respite Care.
Everyone who seeks government assistance with residential aged care accommodation costs must undergo an assets assessment by the Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The aged care facility then uses this information to work out how much they will ask you to pay in accommodation costs.
It may be comforting to know that the Australian Government has strong protections in place to ensure that care is affordable for everyone, regulating maximum daily fees and enforcing limits as to how much you can be asked to pay as an accommodation bond or accommodation fee.
3. What is an Accommodation Bond?
An Accommodation Bond is an amount that you may be asked to pay when you enter low level care or Extra Services accommodation at an aged care facility. It works like an interest-free loan to help cover the costs to develop, maintain and improve the facility’s accommodation and services.
This bond can only be charged by an aged care facility that is certified as meeting minimum building and care standards. All Hunter Valley Care facilities meet these standards.
An aged care facility is allowed to deduct a monthly retention amount from your bond for up to five years. The Australian Government sets a maximum retention amount that you can be charged and the monthly retention amount remains the same from your date of entry. The balance of the bond is refunded to you or your estate, when you leave the facility.
4. How much is the Accommodation Bond?
There is no fixed amount that you should pay; the bond amount is agreed between you and the aged care facility. The Australian Government also enforces limits as to how much you can be asked to pay as an accommodation bond.
5. How do I pay an Accommodation Bond?
Once you have agreed to an Accommodation Bond amount with the aged care facility, there are a number of ways you can pay. You may opt to pay the bond as:
- A lump sum;
- Periodic payments made fortnightly or monthly;
- A combination of lump sum and periodic payments.
If you agree to pay the bond as a lump sum, you have up to six months after you enter the aged care facility to make the payment. However, if you opt not to pay your bond in full on the day you move in, you may be charged interest on the outstanding amount owing. This will be set out in your Bond Agreement. The Government sets the maximum interest rate you can be charged, which is determined at your date of entry to the aged care facility.
It is important to note also that an increase or decrease in your assets after you enter care does not affect the amount of Accommodation Bond or the interest you can be charged by the facility.
6. What is a Bond Agreement?
Aged care facilities are required to offer you an agreement that includes certain details within 21 days after you move in. This Bond Agreement must include:
- the agreed Accommodation Bond amount;
- whether the bond will be paid by lump sum, periodic payment or a combination of the two;
- when the bond is due to be paid;
- the retention amount;
- the interest rate you may be charged on any outstanding bond amount.
7. What happens to my Accommodation Bond if I move to another aged care facility?
If you move from one aged care facility to another with a break of no more than 28 days, you cannot be asked to pay an Accommodation Bond greater than the amount to be returned to you by the facility you are leaving.
If the gap between leaving the first facility and entering the second is greater than 28 days, you will need to negotiate a new Bond Agreement with the second aged care facility.
If you resided at the first aged care facility for less than five years, the second facility may still deduct retention amounts up to the end of the five-year period.
If were in low level care or Extra Services accommodations at the first facility and move into another aged care facility as a high care resident, you may agree to pay an Accommodation Charge to the second facility instead of transferring your bond. In this case, the remaining balance of your bond will be returned to you by the facility you are leaving.
8. When is my Accommodation Bond refunded?
The Australian Government specifies timeframes in which the balance of your bond must be refunded when you leave an aged care facility. Should the bond balance not be repaid within these terms, the facility is required to pay you interest. The timeframes are as follows:
- If you give more than 14 days’ notice of leaving then your bond balance must be refunded to you on the day you leave;
- If you give notice within 14 days of leaving then your bond balance must be repaid within 14 days of you giving notice; or
- If you give no notice of leaving, the provider must refund your bond balance within 14 days of your leaving.
In the event of your passing, the aged care facility may ask for the evidence of probate (the official proving of a will) or letters of administration (authority to administer the estate of someone who has dies without making a will). Viewing these documents will ensure your wishes, as set out in your will, are followed, and enables the facility to identify who is entitled to receive the refund. The aged care facility must refund the balance of your Accommodation Bond within 14 days after the day on which these documents were shown.
9. How does an Accommodation Bond affect pensions?
Your Accommodation Bond amount will be exempt from your Pension Assets Test should you choose to pay your bond as a lump sum. If you require further information about the Pension Assets Test, please contact the Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
10. What costs are involved for Extra Services?
For an additional cost, residential aged care facilities can offer you a higher standard of accommodation, meals and services. All Hunter Valley Care Residential Aged Care facilities offer Extra Services, most catering to both low level and high level care needs.
The fee for these Extra Services varies from place to place, so it’s best to enquire directly with the facility you are considering. For Extra Services accommodations, you may be required to pay an Accommodation Bond.
11. Where can I find out more about costs?
Our Admissions Officer at each Hunter Valley Care Residential Aged Care facility would be happy to discuss specific information regarding the types of costs that may apply to you. Please contact the Admissions Officer to arrange a time to meet at the facility.
You will find more detailed explanation of the costs associated with living at an aged care facility on the Department of Health’s website myagedcare or by phoning their information line on 1800 200 422.