What is an agreement for residential aged care?
Once you have accepted a place at an aged care facility or nursing home, they will send you one or more contracts to formalise their offer.
The documents are given a variety of names including agreements for residential aged care, aged care agreements or aged care contracts.
Before you sign the documents, it is important to make sure you understand them, are happy with all of the conditions and that your rights are protected. Don’t just sign on the dotted line. The aged care facility or nursing home has a duty to tell you and help you to understand all the terms of the agreement. You are entitled to ask questions or to ask for changes or additional inclusions.
Moving into an aged care facility is a big lifestyle change and financial commitment, so it is worth getting a lawyer who is familiar with these types of contracts to ensure the contracts make sense to you and that you are protected.
The agreement must provide for your right to occupy a place at the residential care service either for a stated period or the remainder of the person’s lifetime.
Types of aged care agreements
The three main documents are legal contracts between you and the aged care facility. These may be combined into one agreement.
- 1. Resident agreement
The resident agreement covers the care and services the residential aged care facility will provide and how much that will cost you. It should include how the aged care facility will meet your needs as your circumstances change – often termed “ageing in place”.
A resident agreement should cover:
- the specific details of the care and support services including respite care
- the costs to you including how your fees are calculated
- the rights and responsibilities of both you and the aged care facility
- the process for dealing with concerns and complaints
- security of tenure including the circumstances under which the aged care facility can ask you to leave or you can leave the facility
- the assistance the aged care facility will provide if you are asked to leave
- policies on items such as visitors
- any other items you have negotiated with the facility’s management.
The agreement should clearly state that you have a right to occupy a place at the aged care home. That right continues until the period set out in the agreement or the end of your life.
- 2. Accommodation agreement
The accommodation agreement covers the room you are taking, how much you have agreed to pay, and other accommodation conditions.
An accommodation agreement should cover:
- the specific details of the room you will be provided
- the price of that room which can’t be higher than the published price (but you may negotiate a lower price)
- if you are eligible for government assistance with your accommodation costs
- the payment option you have chosen – rental-style payment, a refundable lump sum amount, or a combination of both
- the requirements for refunding the lump-sum deposit
- policies and requirements on room changes.
- 3. Extra services agreement
This agreement is often combined with the resident agreement and it must include
- the extra service fee – as an itemised list
- details of the higher standard of accommodation, meals and services you will receive.
Put the Charter of Aged Care Rights into your Aged Care Agreement
Any agreement must comply with the User Rights Principles detailed in the Aged Care Act.
The User Rights Principles now contains a Charter of Aged Care Rights. A residential aged care facility must inform you of the Charter of Rights and assist you with comprehending your rights. They must give you a copy of the Charter of Rights and an opportunity to sign the Charter. The Government’s Aged Care Quality Standards also apply to anyone living in a residential aged care facility.
The User Rights Principles, the Charter of Rights and Aged Care Quality Standards are NOT an enforceable set of legal rights unless they form part of your agreement with the aged care provider.
Catherine Henry Lawyers’ expert aged care lawyers recommend that your agreement includes the User Rights Principles, the Charter of Rights, and the Aged Care Quality Standards.
Otherwise you have to rely entirely upon the complaints system to address any issues and concerns you may have whilst living within residential aged care.
Reviewing and updating agreements for residential aged care
Your aged care provider must review and update the resident agreement if your care needs change or you ask them to do so. They must provide a copy of the updated agreement to you as soon as possible after finalising it.
Answers to common questions
If you cannot sign your agreements because of physical or medical problems, another person such as a family member or lawyer may do so on your behalf. You will then get a copy of the agreements.
Yes, you can enter into the agreement verbally. Your aged care facility will record the reason you didn’t sign and the care and services you will be receiving.
Yes, you have a 14-day cooling off period from the date you agreed to withdraw from the resident agreement.
You need to let your aged care facility know in writing. You will still have to pay for any fees and charges mentioned in the agreement for the period that you were in care. You are entitled to a refund if you’ve made other payments during that time.
Making a complaint
If you are not happy with the care or services being provided you should complain to the facility manager.
If you are still not satisfied, the Federal Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission investigates residential aged care facility complaints. For more information on making a complaint visit the Commission’s website.
Our lawyers can assist you in making a complaint.
Your agreement should contain a clause on disputes and damages that allows you to call for mediation and if that fails, arbitration. Check what your agreement says on limits on claims before you sign it.
Talk to our aged care lawyers
Our expert, caring and experienced aged care and elder law team can:
- assist families with how to make a complaint
- help to navigate aged care regulation
- act as the advocate for the resident or family
- advise on residential aged care agreements
- advise and prepare a negligence claim.
Contact us today on (02) 4929 3995 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Our website has a range of other resources including expert articles and client stories on the many ways we help people (and their families) plan for growing older.
*The material provided in our information sheets is for general knowledge only and is not a substitute for independent legal advice specific to your needs.