What is aged care and do you need it?

An older woman at the airport receives assistance from her support worker.

As you age, you might need more support to take care of your everyday needs and continue to do the things you enjoy. That’s where the aged care system can help. So what is aged care?

Aged care is the term we use to describe the support provided to older people either in their own home, or in an aged care (nursing) home. It can include help with everyday living, including cooking and cleaning; health care; specialised accommodation; and equipment to keep you mobile, such as walking frames or ramps. Aged care can be Government-funded for people who are eligible.

The importance of aged care services

Most Australians want to be in charge of decisions about how they live their lives, all their lives, even if they have to deal with health and mobility challenges. That’s how the aged care system can help.

If you are struggling to manage some of the things you want and need to do as you get older, aged care support services can step in and help, enabling you to continue to live where and how you want to live, for as long as possible. In short, we should see aged care as a system we can use to remain independent and in control of the way we want to live.

Should you be planning for aged care?

Most of us avoid thinking about ageing — our fear of aged care is deeply linked to the bad rap that ageing receives, in general. As a result, people tend to avoid acknowledging age-related issues and instead, go to great lengths to delay a natural process. In fact, it can do a world of good to start thinking about ageing well by avoiding common mistakes and misconceptions around ageing.

By acknowledging the incremental losses and new needs that naturally come with ageing, even at a very low level can help prevent or delay more serious problems and retain independence longer.

Who is eligible for aged care services?

Generally speaking, government funded aged care services are available for people over 65 years of age (or Indigenous Australians aged 50+) who need extra support to continue living well.

You might be eligible if you meet certain criteria, including:

  • Having experienced a recent fall, reduced mobility or changes in your memory capacity
  • Being diagnosed with a medical condition
  • Having changes in your existing care arrangements.

Depending on your eligibility, the government might fund your needs partially or entirely. If you’re not eligible, you can find Independent Support Workers through Mable for the kind of support you need, and pay privately with your own funds.

You can check your eligibility on MyAgedCare or apply for an assessment.

Types of aged care support and services

Aged care support and services fall into three categories:

  • Care in your own home – this aims to help you stay independent at home as you age. It includes services such as transport, personal and health care, housework, social support and modifications to your home. Help at home can be accessed through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) or a Home Care Package (HCP). Find out more about Home Care Packages.
  • Care in an aged-care home/nursing home/residential aged care facility – if you’re unable to manage in your own home, and need ongoing help with everyday tasks or health care. Learn more about the differences between home care and residential aged care.
  • Short-term care (in your home or elsewhere) – if you need more intensive care following a hospital stay, or your loved ones need a short break from caring for you, short-term care could include support for a few hours, days or up to 12 weeks.

How do I access aged care services?

First, you’ll need to do an assessment – apply on the MyAgedCare website or phone 1800 200 422 to speak to someone at My Aged Care. Thereafter, the assessor will help you connect with the relevant service providers – or you might prefer to find your own, using the referral code they provide you with.

Learn more about accessing funding for aged care.

How much does aged care cost?

Assessments for aged care are completely free, however, you may have to contribute towards the services you need The aged care costs you pay depend on the types of services and providers you use, i.e.CHSP, HCP, short-term care or a residential aged care facility.

Find out more about the fees and costs involved in a home care package.

Getting aged care support through Mable

There are two ways to access support through Mable:


You’ll need two forms of ID, including your Medicare card, and all your medical and care information handy. It’s recommended that you have support people present, such as loved ones or a translator (if needed). Find out more on MyAgedCare website.

You’ll be visited at home by an assessor, who’ll chat to you about how you’re managing your personal care as well as tasks around the house.

If you’re eligible for the CHSP, you’ll be told right away, and given advice on the next steps. If you’re eligible for the HCP, short-term care or aged care homes, your assessor will send you a letter within two to six weeks letting you know exactly what you’re eligible for.

High-level aged care might refer to care provided for people who, in addition to low-level care, also need nursing care.