- There are many aged care legal agreements that will differ depending on the services you receive
- In residential care, you would normally need to sign at least two agreements
- You should have a good understanding of the legal document before signing
These documents are really important to both you and your provider, as it outlines the expectations and requirements that either party needs to follow.
It is important you thoroughly inspect what is outlined in any agreements before your sign and you have a full understanding of what you are agreeing to.
The agreement you need to sign with a provider will differ depending on what services you are receiving.
Here is a rundown of the types of agreements you may come across when accessing the Australian Government aged care system.
The different agreements you may come across when searching for home care or flexible care:
Home care agreement
This agreement is for anyone that is accessing home care services under the Government subsidised Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) or a Home Care Package (HCP).
Your agreement will include an outline of the care plan your provider will deliver, your package or funding budget, and the rights and responsibilities of you and your provider.
The care plan should include what your goals are for receiving care, this could be improving your mobility; what service you will be receiving from the provider, how often, what your current care needs are, and how the provider will manage your care.
The package budget information in your agreement should give a thorough overview of how much funding you have from the Government, including supplements, how much it will cost if you decide to leave the agreement, the monthly statements you will receive, and what you will be required to pay.
Your provider will create the budget for your care plan with your input. Your provider can not provide you services that you cannot afford in your current funding budget or don't agree to.
Additionally, your provider needs to explain what the process is if you have funds leftover and how they can be used.
Lastly, your rights and responsibilities in the agreement protect both you and your provider and should provide a clear understanding of what is required of both bodies. If you don't meet some of the responsibilities in your agreement, your provider may decide to not provide you services any longer and at the same time you can use this agreement to hold your provider accountable.
You can read our article 'Understanding your home care agreement' for a full explanation of what to expect in your home care agreement.
Recipient agreement for transition care
If you are accessing transition care you will need to sign a recipient agreement with the service provider you have chosen to provide your care services.
This agreement will include all of the therapies you will receive. There will be direction on how you will receive these therapies and when you should expect to receive these therapies.
Your agreement will also outline when you will start receiving these services, when the services will finish, and the provider's 'exit strategy' once you complete your transition care programme.
Additionally, your recipient agreement will outline a 'statement of charges', how much it will cost, and a breakdown of how the costs are worked out. This should also include an explanation of how your financial situation fits with the charges.
Lastly, your agreement will also cover any changes to the agreement, if you decide to cancel your transition care, how to make complaints to the provider, and the responsibilities and rights of you and your service provider.
Flexible care agreement
If you are accessing Short Term Restorative Care (STRC), you will need to enter a flexible care agreement with the provider of your choosing.
In addition to your personal information it should detail what goal you're working towards, who will deliver the services to you and where. There should also be a schedule of the services you will receive over the eight-week program as well as what it will cost you.
You do not have to finish the eight-week program if you believe you have met the goals that you set out to meet in your agreement.
Residential aged care
There are four agreements that you may end up signing when entering a residential aged care home:
This agreement covers the services, care and support you will receive while living in a nursing home as well as what you will be expected to pay towards the cost of your care.
Your agreement will include what services and care you will receive and a care plan to make sure your care needs are being met while living in the facility.
How much you will pay will be clearly laid out, including your care costs, how much of the basic daily fee and means-tested care fee you will pay if you can afford to, as well as an explanation of how the provider calculates these costs.
If you wish to have additional services provided to you during your stay, this will also be outlined in your resident agreement including any additional charge. Any additional services you receive will be provided in a statement from the provider.
This should not be mistaken with your extra services agreement, which is listed below, however, your resident agreement will mention that you will be receiving extra services.
There should be information in your agreement regarding your rights and responsibilities - for yourself and the provider - and also cover any policies that the facility has, like visitors or home rules.
You can read our article 'What you need to know about your resident agreement' for a full explanation of what to expect in your resident agreement.
Resident agreement (respite)
For a short term stay in a nursing home that will provide you with respite services, you will need to enter into a specific resident agreement for respite care with the provider.
This agreement will outline what services they will provide to you, how much it will cost including a breakdown of those costs, the dates you will be staying in the facility, and your rights and responsibilities while living in an aged care home as a temporary resident and of the provider.
You can expect this agreement to also have any information on how they run the facility, including visitor and leave policies.
This agreement relates to your acceptance of the room you will be living in during your stay at an aged care home.
The agreement will outline details of the room, including the cost, how you can pay for it, and your rights around changing rooms.
Your accommodation agreement will have the rate of your room and if you need to pay towards the cost of your accommodation if you are able to.
This agreement will also explain the three different ways you can pay, which is a rent-like payment, a refundable accommodation deposit (RAD) also known as a lump sum, or a mixture of both.
In the accommodation agreement, you should also receive information on what situations would require you to change rooms, like inappropriate for your physical abilities.
Extra service agreement
This agreement does not apply to anyone, only if you wish to move into an aged care home that has specific 'extra service status', whether that is the whole nursing home or a dedicated room or ward.
A facility with this status means they can provide you with hotel-like services that go beyond the Government standard of care. Any care and support you receive in aged care is not considered extra services.
Your extra service agreement will cover what you pay for these extra services and information about what you will be receiving, whether that is a better room or food, more amenities like additional television channels, or special services like aromatherapy or hairdressing.
You can learn more about extra services and the agreement in our article, 'What are extra services in aged care?'
Your chosen provider for any care services, whether short term restorative care, home care, or residential aged care, should be ensuring you understand what you are agreeing to before you sign.
You cannot start services or move into a facility without these legal agreements in place first.
If you don't want to sign a physical agreement, you are allowed to verbally agree to the agreement without actually signing any document. The provider will need to record your verbal agreement to the legal document.
Keep in mind that these agreements from providers are meant to be worked on collaboratively to some degree with yourself and your family or caregivers.
Once you have signed an agreement, your provider will not be able to make changes to it unless you agree to the changes and vice versa.
Will you be getting extra help from family or advocates to understand your aged care agreements? Tell us in the comments below.
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