You may have heard talk about the ACAT (the Aged Care Assessment Team) and wondered just what it is that they do and how they can help you. The following guide to the ACAT process for the older person and their family has been prepared by Enis Jusufspahic.
In order to access aged care packages and residential care, the Commonwealth requires that the person undergo an aged care assessment by the ACAT (the ACAT assessment) to determine whether or not the person is eligible for subsidised care; either Home Support or Residential Aged Care. This is an entirely voluntary process.
What is the ACAT and what does it do?
The ACAT consists of medical professionals such as:
- occupational therapists
The Team’s purpose is to:
- Assess an individual’s ability to live independently; and to
- Recommend suitable care arrangements; either in the community or in residential aged care.
Who can be assessed by the ACAT?
The person to be assessed needs to be over the age of 65. Also, the ACAT is able to assess a younger person with disability if the person has an age related condition and all other local support services have been exhausted.[i]
The ACATs prioritise assessments of people at greatest risk. The ACAT is not an emergency service. If the person needs immediate care and support, please contact your medical professional. Those at greatest risk are given an assessment appointment within 14 days and those at lesser risk are given an appointment after 14 days.
The assessor undertakes a cognitive screen with the client and speaks with the treating doctor to access the person’s medical file. A family member or advocate may be present at the assessment.
The ACAT asks the person a series of standardised questions which look at the individual’s needs around:
- housing situation
- support available from family and friends
- their mobility and health
- the person’s ability to carry out activities of daily living, such as housework, shopping and showering
- Following the assessment process, the ACAT convenes a panel of aged care experts who make a recommendation about the person’s care needs. It is a purely a recommendation and it does not carry any legal weight.
- The person who has been assessed has the right to be re assessed, if they wish.
- The ACAT does not have power to compel a person to take up an aged care package or to enter residential aged care. [The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) has powers to appoint a substitute decision maker for a person who is incapable of making decisions for themselves. In this case, the substitute decision maker may or may not decide to agree with the ACAT recommendation, having taken into account what is in the best interest of the person.]
Who can refer to ACAT for Assessment?
Anyone can refer a person to ACAT for an assessment, including GPs, police, council workers, hospitals and specialists. Older people or people with disability can self-refer.
How to contact the ACAT
The Australian Government provides funds to the State and Territory Governments, specifically to operate and manage the Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT).[ii] Each area has its own local team – there are 58 across NSW.[iii] You can find phone numbers for your local ACAT team on the www.myagedcare.gov.au website or by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
The Australian Government provides funds to the State and Territory Governments, specifically to operate and manage the ACATs. Each area has its own local team – there are 58 across NSW. You can find phone numbers for your local ACAT on the www.myagedcare.gov.au website or by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
Enis Jusufspahic is the Sector Support & Development Officer Ageing and Disability Eastern Sydney at Inner Sydney Voice
[i] National Guiding Principles for the Referral and Assessment of Younger People with Disability, Department of Health, 21 October 2008, https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ageing-acat-guidelines-disability.htm
[ii] How Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs) can help you, Department of Health & Ageing, September 2012, http://www.islhd.health.nsw.gov.au/Services/AgedCare_AssessmentTeams/Info-Sheet-01-SEPT12.pdf
[iii] New South Wales ACAT contacts, DPS Guide to Aged Care , http://www.agedcareguide.com.au/acats.asp?stateid=2