How to work out what residential care will cost

Unfortunately there is no quick or easy way to calculate what residential care will cost. Here's what you need to know. 

The cost of residential care depends entirely on the facility you choose, the level of care your family member or friend requires and their individual income and assets.

The calculation involves three components:

  • Daily care fees (applying to both low and high level care)
  • Accommodation bonds (applying to low level care and extra services places in either low or high level care)
  • Accommodation charges (applying to high level care only)

Daily care fees are divided into two parts:

  • Basic daily care fee (at pensioner & non-pensioner rates)
  • Income-tested fee (not applicable to full pensioners)

This is assessed by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Some families find that they simply need to complete the paperwork for the facility and wait to hear back from them regarding the daily care fee and if applicable the accommodation bond or charge. This can be frustrating if you are trying to choose between a number of facilities.

Some families find that they simply need to complete the paperwork for the facility and wait to hear back from them regarding the daily care fee and if applicable the accommodation bond or charge. This can be frustrating if you are trying to choose between a number of facilities. The following information sheets may help you to make sense of the particulars.

Exceptions for carers and families In most situations the family home must be included when calculating your family member's assets. Listed below are exceptions to this rule, where the home is deemed 'protected' and not counted as an asset.

1. If the spouse or de facto partner (or a dependent child) is still living in the family home

2. If the carer has lived in the family home for at least two years and they are eligible for an income-support payment - e.g. the aged pension, carer payment or job search allowance

3. If close family friends have lived in the family home for at least five years and they are eligible for an income-support payment. If selling the family home or farm would cause hardship for the family, this will also be considered.

Tips from carers and families
  • Know that the process of working out costs is complex
  • Choose someone in your family who is likely to understand the fine details - ask them to help you with this
  • Speak to a financial advisor if you'd like to. Don't sign any paperwork unless you understand what it means - it's legally binding.
Who to contact for more advice

Read the fact sheet titled, 'Residential care paperwork and waiting lists'

The Aged and Community Care Information Line for information about most aspects of residential care - ph: 1800 500 853

The Department of Health and Ageing if paying an accommodation bond or charge would cause hardship - ph: 1800 020 103

Centrelink to speak about your family member's specific circumstances. Remember that your family member must sign a nominee form first, to permit them to speak to you - ph: 13 23 00.
Phone 13 10 21 to make an appointment if you'd prefer.

The Veterans' Affairs Financial Information Service - ph: 133 254

Independent financial or legal advisors specialising in aged care

The Commonwealth Carer Resource Centre for information and support to carers - ph: 1800 242 636.