Aged Care Agreements
Aged care agreements
In Australia, aged care homes (i.e. nursing homes) are governed and regulated by the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) (the ‘Act’). If you decide to move into an aged care home, you will be asked to enter a written Resident Agreement, and an Accommodation Agreement (if you are required to pay for some or all of the costs of your accommodation). It is not uncommon for the Resident Agreement and the Accommodation Agreement to be contained in the one legal document, which at times is referred to as the ‘Residential Agreement’.
What is a Resident Agreement?
A Resident Agreement will usually contain terms in relation to matters such as fees and charges, the type of services to be provided, and the parties rights and responsibilities to each other. According to section 59-1 of the Act, some of the matters that must be specified in a Resident Agreement include, for example:
- the residential care service in which the approved provider will provide care to the care recipient; and
- the care and services that the approved provider has the capacity to provide to the care recipient while the care recipient is being provided with care through the residential care service; and
- the policies and practices that the approved provider will follow in setting the fees that the care recipient will be liable to pay to the approved provider for the provision of the care and services; and
- if the care recipient is not to enter the residential care service on a permanent basis—the period for which the care and services will be provided, and (if applicable) any respite care booking fee; and
- the circumstances in which the care recipient may be asked to depart from the residential care service; and
- the assistance that the approved provider will provide to the care recipient to obtain alternative accommodation if the care recipient is asked to depart from the residential care service; and
- the complaints resolution mechanism that the approved provider will use to address complaints made by or on behalf of the care recipient; and
- the care recipient’s responsibilities as a resident in the residential care service.
In addition, a Resident Agreement must also comply with any requirements specified in the User Rights Principles 2014 (Cth) relating to:
- the way in which, and the process by which, the Resident Agreement is to be entered into; or
- the period within which the Resident Agreement is to be entered into; or
- any provisions that the Resident Agreement must contain; or
- any other matters with which the Resident Agreement must deal.
What is an Accommodation Agreement?
If you are required to pay for some or all of your accommodation costs, you will be required to enter an Accommodation Agreement, which will outline the costs that you are required to pay. According to section 52F-3 of the Act, some of the matters that must be specified in an Accommodation Agreement include, for example:
- the person’s date (or proposed date) of entry to the service;
- that the person will pay an accommodation payment if:
- the person’s means tested amount at the date of entry is equal to, or greater than, the maximum accommodation supplement amount for that day; or
- the person does not provide sufficient information to allow the person’s means tested amount to be worked out;
- that, if the person’s means tested amount at the date of entry is less than the maximum accommodation supplement amount for that day, the person may pay an accommodation contribution, depending on the person’s means tested amount;
- that a determination under section 52K-1 (financial hardship) of the Act may reduce the accommodation payment or accommodation contribution, including to nil;
- that, within 28 days after the date of entry, the person must choose to pay the accommodation payment or accommodation contribution (if payable) by:
- daily payments; or
- refundable deposit; or
- a combination of refundable deposit and daily payments;
- that, if the person does not choose how to pay within those 28 days, the person must pay by daily payments;
- that, if the person chooses to pay a refundable deposit within those 28 days:
- the person will not be required to pay the refundable deposit until 6 months after the date of entry; and
- daily payments must be paid until the refundable deposit is paid;
- the amounts that are permitted to be deducted from a refundable deposit;
- the circumstances in which a refundable deposit balance must be refunded;
- any other conditions relating to the payment of a refundable deposit;
- such other matters as are specified in the Fees and Payments Principles 2014 (No. 2) (Cth).
Aged care in Australia is highly regulated, and laws governing aged care can be complex.
If you have moved into an aged care home, or you are thinking about moving into an age care home, and require some advice about your rights or the responsibilities of the aged care provider under the Act or any Resident Agreement and/or Accommodation Agreement that you wish to enter or have entered, contact AdviiLaw today and speak to an experienced lawyer.
This commentary is of a general nature only, containing nothing more than some general information for the reader. It is not intended to be legal advice, nor cannot it be relied upon as legal advice. To this end, please read our Website Terms including the disclaimer contained therein carefully. Laws, rules and principles may be subject to sudden and unexpected changes and you should always consult a lawyer about your specific circumstances.