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Your complete guide to an ACAT Assessment

Growing older is a natural part of our lives, but when you start to notice the impacts of ageing on a   one, it can be a difficult transition season. When there’s no certainty about what’s ahead, understanding the resources available to you so you can best support your loved one is a powerful way to gain back choice amongst the unknown. Having clarity across these options can also help you to access help and support as soon as possible, easing the impact of changes as a result of ageing.

The first step in putting together a care plan for your family member is to organise an ACAT or ACAS assessment. While these are basically the same test, the name changes from state to state, with Victoria using ACAS assessment while other states use ACAT.

ACAS is the acronym for Aged Care Assessment Service while ACAT refers to an Aged Care Assessment Team. Either way, an ACAT is used to make a recommendation as to what kind of care will be made available to your family member, based on current difficulties and where there’s potential for ongoing benefit.

Signs it’s time for an ACAT

There’s no simple answer to the question of when it’s time for an ACAT assessment. Generally, this is a suitable step to take when you’re noticing a reduction in your loved one’s capacity to care for their health, the hygiene of their home, changes in their mental health state or ongoing issues resulting from specific health conditions. The support that’s available to individuals varies depending on needs and circumstances. At first, support may look like assistance in preparing food, grocery shopping or in daily personal care. This becomes more extensive based on the needs of the recipient, so by setting an ACAT assessment in motion, you can understand more about the levels of assistance available to your family member.

How to prepare for an ACAT

You can arrange an ACAT assessment by contacting the Australian Government’s My Aged Care service on behalf of your family member. Alternatively, this can also be arranged by your family member’s social worker, doctor, or other health professionals on your behalf.

This assessment is required if your loved one needs to access any aspect of the government’s Home Care Package or entry into a government-funded aged care home. These assessments are entirely free.

The day of the ACAT

There’s not a heavy amount of preparation required before the ACAT takes place. A member of the ACAT team (generally a doctor, nurse, social worker or other health professional) will visit your loved one in their home or in hospital to assess their needs. With teams based all over Australia, ACAT assessment can be accessed no matter where individuals are based.

On the day of the ACAT assessment, a member of your local ACAT team will visit your loved one to assess their needs. The individual under review will be asked a series of questions that are designed to identify the kind and amount of support necessary for daily and personal activities. This will result in a determination of the best care options for each individual’s situation. Given the nature of these discussions, carers, relatives and those in close community are also invited to be a part of the discussion. These assessments generally take between 1-2 hours.

Questions may include:

  • Medical history
  • Living arrangements and current support
  • The type of help required for basic, daily needs
  • The aged care or home care services available in their local area

After the assessment

Once the ACAT assessment is complete, the ACAT team will discuss the assessment results with your family member, identifying the home, community or residential care options available within their region.

If eligibility for services is confirmed, your family member will then receive a letter confirming assessment results. This will include a referral code that can then be passed on to the facilities or services they’re applying for, so they can access this information and manage the referral.

What you can do during and after the process

The best thing you can do for your loved one throughout the ACAT process is to continue to communicate clearly, respectfully and patiently. The process can take some time, and often there are wait times associated with being able to access services the assessment deems are suitable. By supporting your loved one through this time of transition, you can make sure you’re asking important questions, clarifying key details and proactively engaging to ensure the best outcome of care and support for your loved one via the resources ACAT can provide access to.

If you’re unhappy with the assessment outcome, there’s the option to either accept or reject the recommendations. However, if you and your family member do feel the assessment has resulted in an inaccurate set of recommendations, it’s wise to discuss this with the assessors before immediately moving to a rejection. If points of disagreement cannot be resolved through this approach, the option is available to ask for an appeal, bringing fresh perspectives into the ACAT assessment and its context.

How SAI Home and Community Care can help

SAI Home and Community Care is a locally focused provider of Aged and Disability services. We ensure our individual clients’ needs are met 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with a team of carers who are fully qualified to support the elderly and people with disabilities. With a key focus on independence, dignity and respect, we’re well positioned to assist in the ACAT process if you or your family member have any questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out if our team can be of service.

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