About aged care

Learn all about aged care – what it is, how to access it, the costs of aged care, types of services available, aged care laws and what we’re doing to improve quality of care.

What is aged care?

Aged care is the support provided to older people who need help in their own home or who can no longer live at home. It can include:

  • help with everyday living
  • assistive equipment and home modifications 
  • personal care and health care 
  • accommodation. 

Aged care can help you to:

  • stay connected to your community
  • be more independent
  • take care of your health and safety
  • meet your cultural and social needs.

Who is eligible?

You may be eligible for government-funded aged care services if you are 65 years of age or older (50 years or older if you identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person) and need help to do the things you used to.

Some people may be eligible at a younger age.

Types of aged care services

Care in your home

In-home aged care provides support to help you stay independent for as long as possible. It can help with things like:

  • personal care
  • transport
  • food preparation
  • shopping
  • housework
  • physio and therapy
  • social activities
  • modifications to your home.

We subsidise:

Residential care in aged care homes

Residential care in aged care (nursing) homes is for older people who:

  • can no longer live at home
  • need ongoing help with everyday tasks or health care.

We subsidise aged care homes to provide care that is available 24 hours a day, as well as access to nursing and general health care services.

Residential care can be short-term (respite care) or permanent.

Short-term care

Short-term care can help you to improve your wellbeing and independence or get back on your feet after a hospital stay. It can also give you or your carer a break.

You can receive short-term services in your home, an aged care home or in the community.

We subsidise:

  • after-hospital or transition care support for up to 12 weeks to help you recover after a stay in hospital
  • short-term restorative care support for up to 8 weeks to help you improve your wellbeing and independence
  • respite care support for a few hours, days or longer to give you or your carer a break.

Retirement villages (or retirement homes)

Retirement villages are an option if you do not need the higher level of care offered by aged care homes. We do not subsidise these, so you will need to pay the full cost yourself.

If you are considering this option, read about retirement homes to find out how they work.

How to access aged care

Find out where to start on the My Aged Care website. It steps you through how to:

If you need help, contact My Aged Care on the phone or in person.

Costs of aged care

If you can afford to, you are expected to help with some of the costs of aged care.

If you are not eligible, or waiting for funded services to become available, you can access privately funded services at any time. You will need to pay the full costs yourself.

How aged care fees are controlled for home and residential care

We set a maximum amount for daily fees and accommodation costs.

We also set yearly and lifetime caps for care fees that are income or means tested. Once you reach these caps, your care provider cannot ask you to pay any more care fees.

Aged care providers must get approval from the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority if they want to:

  • increase their fees for extra services such as better accommodation and food
  • charge new fees for extra services
  • charge accommodation costs that are higher than the allowed maximum rate.

Quality in aged care

Aged care services aim to improve the quality of life of the people receiving care.

To help make sure this happens, providers of aged care must meet the Aged Care Quality Standards.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is available to support people receiving aged care, their families and carers. View their information and resources to help you understand the care and quality services you should receive from a provider.

Quality in aged care is a right. Under the Charter of Aged Care Rights, you are entitled to safe and high-quality care and services.

View the following resources to help you understand your rights and how to exercise them:

To check the quality of aged care providers, you can:

If you have concerns about quality of care and do not feel comfortable talking to the provider (or you have tried and it did not work), you can:

What we’re doing about aged care

We are rolling out changes to put older people first and improve the quality, safety and choice in aged care.

Find out more about what we’re doing about aged care.

Aged care laws in Australia

The Aged Care Act 1997 is the main law that covers government-funded aged care. It sets out rules for things like funding, regulation, approval of providers, quality of care and the rights of people receiving care. Laws on diversity and discrimination also apply to aged care.

Find out more about aged care laws in Australia.

Date last updated:

Help us improve health.gov.au

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.