Service Provider Responsibilities Regarding Accommodation Agreements
Section 52F-3 of the Aged Care Act 1997 requires that an accommodation agreement must allow for both situations where a resident is liable to pay an accommodation payment and the situation where the resident is eligible for government assistance with their accommodation costs. The price agreed only holds if a resident is eligible to make an accommodation payment. Similarly, the type of accommodation (room type) specified in the accommodation payment agreement only applies if an accommodation payment is made. While the means test results are unknown the provider may charge the resident the agreed accommodation price. The amount is payable by daily payments until the resident’s arrangements and choice of payment is settled.
In terms of the resident agreement, while the person must be advised of the fees and charges that must be paid under the agreement, this does not require a dollar amount to be inserted. A service provider can accept a new resident without a completed means assessment and the Department of Social Services is aware that many providers continue to do so as was the case with the asset testing arrangements that applied prior to 1 July 2014. Providers have previously met their obligations regarding fees and charges in the resident agreement by including a reference to ‘charging the fees and charges as determined by the means test or by the Department of Human Services’. Including similar references in agreements after 1 July 2014 will continue to meet a provider’s obligations.
It is a provider’s business decision whether to accept new residents prior to an assessment being completed. Providers can utilise the fee estimator available on the My Aged Care website to assist in setting an interim fee while awaiting the results of the means test. The fee estimator can be accessed on the Fee Estimator page at the My Aged Care website (www.myagedcare.gov.au) or through the My Aged Care Contact Centre on 1800 200 422.
Individuals considering entering aged care are being encouraged to lodge their request for assessment form as early as possible, and can do so before they need to enter care facilitating a smooth entry to care. The results are generally valid for 120 days.