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ACAT Assessments: All you need to know

If you’ve got a family member who’s experiencing the changes that can result from ageing, you may find yourself evaluating the services that are available to them. Often, these changes can be gradual. However, when the time comes to access services that can make all the difference in their daily comfort and safety, knowing how to navigate the system is crucial in ensuring they’re supported to the highest degree possible.

In Australia, a wide range of support is available for ageing individuals. This is administered on the back of an ACAT (or ACAS) assessment, which is designed to assess how much assistance, and what kind, is necessary from individual to individual.

ACAT refers to the Aged Care Assessment Team, which is used in every state aside from Victoria, who use the Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS).

When do I know it’s time for an ACAT?

The appropriate timing for an ACAT assessment differs from individual to individual, as the ageing process is so different for each person. However, there are a number of common factors you can look out for to identify when it’s time to commence the ACAT process. Keep your eye on the health quality of your loved one, the cleanliness of their home (compared to their usual standards), any fluctuations or changes to their mental health, and the impact of specific health conditions on a daily basis.

An ACAT assessment can identify appropriate support for this point in time, while opening up the conversation to assess support on an ongoing basis as further changes take place. As no government funding can be accessed without this process, it’s important that you know when to take the next step and commence the formal ACAT process.

What to prepare for

The ACAT assessment can be arranged through My Aged Care service. However, you can also enlist the services of your family member’s social worker, doctor, or any other health care professionals to start this process.

Assessments don’t cost anything and are arranged by your local ACAT team.

What to expect during the ACAT assessment

ACATs are made up of teams of medical and allied health professionals who assess physical, psychological, restorative, cultural, social and medical needs. A member of the ACAT team (most likely a doctor, nurse or social worker) will visit your loved one in home or in hospital in order to assess their needs. They’ll do so by asking key questions, while also inviting conversation and input from the immediate community of the individual in question. Carers, relatives and concerned friends/family members are invited to share their thoughts as to the care abilities of the individual, allowing the ACAT assessor to paint a full picture of the appropriate care necessary to support them.

These questions will be across areas such as the individual’s medical history, their current living arrangements and the daily support needed within them, how they navigate their basic needs, and the corresponding aged care or home care services available in the area.

The process itself takes 1-2 hours to complete.

Once the assessment is complete

The ACAT team will take the information they receive from their visit and from conversations with all parties into their assessment process. The assessment results will then be shared with your family member, highlighting the home, community or residential care options available that can facilitate the support recommended for your loved one.

If the ACAT assessment confirms eligibility for ongoing service access, your family member will receive a letter confirming this outcome. It will contain a code which is needed by service providers, who can use that code to access information and manage the referral on an ongoing basis.

Family Helping Grandparent

How to support your loved one through the ACAT process

While it can be challenging to navigate new systems, supporting your loved one through the assessment process can be as simple as reminding them that they’re loved and supported by their friends and family. With the support available to them via the ACAT system, they may be able to find new levels of comfort and peace of mind on a daily basis. Communicate proactively and clearly, providing key information to the ACAT team while also assisting your family member through this new experience.

Should you disagree with the outcomes of the ACAT assessment, the option is available to you and your family member to reject these recommendations. This can be escalated through a formal appeal process should you require a fresh perspective across the case’s particulars.

As your family member begins to receive support via the services available through the ACAT assessment outcomes, you can continue to communicate the impact of that support to their service providers. Ongoing, open communication and feedback can allow for a tailoring of services shaped on individual needs and outcomes.

How Care With Quality can support you and your loved one

Care With Quality has over 25 years of supporting members of the Greater Melbourne community in living their best lives at home. If you’re navigating an ACAT assessment for the first time, we can work with you to understand how to best use the resources available to your loved one. This creates an optimisation of support services designed to provide thoughtful, quality care in a safe environment. We provide support via Home Care Packages and are a registered NDIS Service provider. Connect with our team today to learn more about how we can support you.

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