Sometimes medical or legal terms can be confusing. Check here for plain language explanations.




















Accommodation bonds and charges for residential aged care

Accommodation bonds and charges are payments for living in an aged care home. People who went into care before 1 July 2014 use this system. The 'bond' is an upfront payment, like when renting a house or apartment. The 'charge' is the ongoing payment, like a monthly rent payment. After 1 July 2014, the names changed to 'payments' and 'contributions'.

Accommodation payments and contributions for residential aged care

Accommodation payments and accommodation contributions are ways to pay to live in an aged care home. This system started on 1 July 2014. If you are not eligible for government assistance, you will need to pay the agreed room price. This is called an accommodation 'payment'. If you are eligible for government assistance, you pay a reduced amount. This is called an accommodation 'contribution'.

Accreditation (audit, Standards)

Accreditation is the process of assessing the quality of aged care homes. In Australia, aged care homes must be accredited to get government subsidies. Accreditation is managed by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. It judges services based on the Aged Care Quality Standards. To do this, it conducts regular checks to make sure providers are meeting the Standards.

Acute health care facility

An acute health care facility is a place that can provide care to treat an urgent illness or injury. The most common example is hospitals. This includes large hospitals that have specialists ('tertiary referral' hospitals) and smaller district and community hospitals.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is a government body that reviews decisions made by Australian Government departments and agencies. It has the power to review most decisions made by Centrelink. It can review decisions about social security pensions, benefits and allowances, and concession and health care cards.

Advance care planning

Advance care planning involves making a plan for your health care ahead of time (in advance). It makes sure that you will receive the health and personal care you want, even if you can't communicate or make decisions later. In Victoria, advance care planning involves creating an 'advance care directive' that lists your wishes. You can also nominate a 'substitute decision-maker' to make decisions for you when you cannot. Read more about advance care planning in Victoria.


An advocate is someone who can help you understand your rights and stand up for your rights. They support you, work for you and represent your wishes. Anyone can be an advocate. It's often a friend or family member. It doesn't have to be one person. The National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP) provides free, independent advocacy support to older people who use aged care services.

Aged Care Act 1997

The Aged Care Act 1997 is the main set of rules for aged care services in Australia. It applies to services that receive government funding. It covers rules for regulation, approval of service providers, fees, quality of care, and the rights of people receiving care. It also addresses what happens when service providers fail to follow the rules.

Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT)

An Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) is a team of people who visit you to see what support you need. This is known as a comprehensive assessment. They will ask you some questions and help you make a support plan. To finalise your assessment, you may also need to complete some forms or documents. They can assess you for several types of support, such as in-home care, short-term care or residential care (aged care home).

Aged Care Complaints Commissioner

Aged Care Complaints Commissioner has been replaced in recent years. You should now contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is the national regulator of the aged care industry. It protects the safety, health, well-being and quality of life of people receiving aged care. It manages accreditation of service providers and handles complaints. It started on 1 January 2020. It replaced the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency and the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.

Ageing in place

Ageing in place is a general term that means people can stay living at home as they get older. Even as your body and mind change with old age, the idea of 'ageing in place' means that you do not have to go into an aged care home.

Allied health support

Allied health support is care provided by health professionals who are not doctors, dentists or nurses. Allied health support may include both health professionals and social workers. Allied health professionals are qualified to help you with things such as diet, exercise, pharmacy, speech, hearing, sight, mobility, cultural needs and mental health.

Assets assessment

An assets assessment looks at what property you own. It's done so the Australian Government can work out which aged care services are right for you and how much you will pay for them. It uses an income assessment or a means assessment (income plus assets) to work this out.

Care plan

A care plan is a document that states what your needs are, the services required to meet those needs, and who will provide the services. Creating a care plan is a common part of a comprehensive assessment created with you by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).


A carer is a person who provides personal care, support and help to people with a disability, medical condition, mental illness, or frailty due to age. Carers can be family members, friends or neighbours. Carers are an important part of the health care system, especially in aged care and palliative care. They are usually unpaid.

Charter of Aged Care Rights

The Charter of Aged Care Rights lists the rights of all people who receive government-funded aged care services. It says that everyone has the right to get high-quality care and services. This Charter came into effect on 1 July 2019. It replaced some previous charters about the rights and responsibilities of people getting care.

Commonwealth Home Support Programme

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) helps older people access support services so they can maintain their independence at home safely. The Programme helps pay for the services if you cannot. It includes services that help you stay well and independent, safe in your home and keep you connected with your community. It also includes services for people experiencing homelessness.

Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre

Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres (CRCC) are places that offer information and support to carers. The role of these Centres is to support healthy and strong relationships. They give carers support such as short-term respite, emergency support, advice, and referral to a specialist service in your area.

Community Visitors Scheme (CVS)

The Community Visitor Scheme is a program that organises volunteers to visit older people. It is available to anyone living in government-funded aged care homes or living at home with a Home Care Package.


Consent means that you agree, or have given permission, for something to happen. In health care, consent is when you agree for a health care worker to give you care, including any tests, medicines, treatments or procedures. Informed consent is very important. Informed consent means you have enough information and time to understand the risks and benefits before you make a decision.

Consumer Directed Care (CDC)

Consumer Directed Care (CDC) is when you have control over the care and services you need. For example, it means that a Home Care Package is designed to benefit the person receiving the services.

Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services

Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services (DBMAS) is a support service for people with dementia. Its main aim is to help with changes in behaviour that impact the person with dementia or their carer. The service also supports staff and carers working in the community, in aged care homes and in other health care settings. It is provided by Dementia Support Australia.

Discharge planning

Discharge planning is planning that makes sure you continue to get the right health care after you leave the hospital or other health care facility. It is completed with the patient, carer, family and their health care team. It involves making arrangements for a smooth transition from hospital to the place of discharge (such as home or an aged care home). It can include things like follow-up tests and appointments, medicines and equipment.


Dying is a process. In medical terms, the active dying process starts within the last days or hours. Signs that someone is dying include changes in eating and drinking, sleep, body temperature, incontinence and breathing. Signs that death has occurred include no breathing, no heartbeat, the person cannot be woken up, and their eyes don't move or react to light.

End of life

End of life is when a person is likely to die within the next 12 months. It includes people who are expected to die within a few hours or days, people with advanced conditions that cannot be cured, and people who are very old and frail.

End of life care

End of life care includes physical, spiritual and emotional support and treatment for people at the end of their life. It is delivered by health care professionals, support services and carers (often family or friends). The goal is to make the dying person's life as comfortable and fulfilling as possible. It also includes support for carers, family and friends of the dying person.

Enduring power of attorney

An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint someone to make important decisions about your life. In Victoria, that includes financial and personal decisions. That person is called an attorney. You can have more than one attorney. You decide what powers they have. Also see 'substitute decision-maker'.

Financial hardship assistance

Financial hardship assistance is when the Australian Government helps pay for care when you can't afford the costs. It can help with the three main types of care: Home Care Packages, residential aged care, or short-term care (respite care).

Flexible aged care program

A flexible aged care program is a program that provides aged care but is not a standard residential care or home care package. There are currently 5 types of flexible aged care in Australia: transition care, the Short-Term Restorative Care Program, the Multi-Purpose Services Program, the National and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program, and the Innovative Care Program.

Flexible care services

Flexible care services are services that acknowledge that people need different approaches to aged care. In Australia, it includes services outside the standard aged care homes and Home Care Packages. It includes service providers that are funded under one of the Australian Government's flexible care programs (see: flexible aged care program).

Goals of care

Goals of care are things that you can do to have good health. They can be clinical goals, such as lower blood pressure, or personal goals, such as gardening. Goals of care should be made by the patient with the help of their health care team.


A guardian is a person that has been given the power to make decisions for you about personal matters. These matters might include finances and where you live. It is possible to have more than one guardian (called 'joint guardians'). In Victoria, only the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) can give someone these powers.

Home Care Packages (HCP)

Home Care Packages (HCP) help older people receive support at home. They are for people with more complex needs than the Commonwealth Home Support Programme provides. They include services to keep you well and independent, services to keep you safe in your home and services to keep you connected to your community.


Hospices are also known as palliative care units. They are places that care for people who are dying. They are designed to be as homely as possible and usually have no limits on visiting.

Independent advocate

See 'advocate'.

Limitations of medical treatment

Limitations of medical treatment' is a statement of a person's wishes to not have lifesaving treatment. An example may be a person's wish not to be resuscitated after a heart attack. It does not include anything that will cause death or make it come quicker. Limitations of medical treatment can be included in an advance care directive.

Live-in setting

A live-in setting is accommodation that is designed to be more homely and less clinical. It could be part of an aged care home or a separate wing of a hospital. See 'hospice'.

Living will

In Victoria, 'living will' has no legal meaning. When used, it usually means an 'advance care directive'.


A nominee is a person who can act for you. People in aged care can register a nominee to, for example, receive communication from the Government. Only one person can be registered as a resident's nominee.

Non-beneficial treatment

Non-beneficial treatment (also 'futile treatment') is any treatment that will not work or is not in your best interest. A decision about whether something is helpful or not is usually made by the treating doctor.

Palliative care

Palliative care is care provided by a specialist palliative care team for people who have an illness with little or no prospect of cure. Palliative care aims to give the best possible quality of life for the person, rather than treat the illness. You can receive palliative care at the same time as receiving care from your treating team. Palliative care also provides support to the person's family and carers.


A patient is a consumer of services provided by hospitals, residential aged care homes and other health care services. It is used to mean the same thing as 'consumer', 'resident' and 'client'.

Personal care

Personal care is a general term for help with things like showering, bathing, dressing, feeding and toileting. It can be done by a professional personal care assistant or by a friend or family member. See 'carer'.


Reablement encourages people to maintain their abilities or learn new ones. It aims to stop people becoming dependent on care. It rejects the idea that ageing is a process of physical and mental decline that cannot be stopped. Reablement activities can include exercise, social engagement, art, and practical skills such as cooking.

Respite care

Respite care is when someone else looks after you or your carer so you or your carer can have a break. It can happen at home, in the community or in an aged care home. It can be for a few hours, a few days, or longer, depending on your needs and the services available.

Resuscitation order

A resuscitation order (sometimes 'do not resuscitate') is a direction to tell medical staff whether the person does or does not want to be resuscitated if their heart stops. 'See also: limitations of medical treatment'.

Self-management programs

Self-management programs help people with chronic illness to learn or practice behaviours that improve their health. These behaviours include fitness, mental health and skills for daily life. Programs are run by health care organisations and are often done in groups.

Short-term care

Short-term care is any care or service provided for a set time. There are a few types of short-term care, including restorative care, transition care and respite. Restorative care helps with everyday tasks. Transition care helps you recover after being in the hospital. Respite care helps give you or your carer a break.

Specialist palliative care

Palliative care includes many different types of care that can be provided by a range of people. Specialist palliative care is when palliative care is given by nurses or doctors who have specialised skills and experience.

Specified care and services

Specified care and services are the care and services that your aged care home must provide for no extra cost. They must provide them in a way that meets the requirements of the Aged Care Act 1997, including the Accreditation Standards.

Substitute decision maker

Substitute decision-makers are people who can legally make decisions for you. These decisions may be about financial, lifestyle or medical issues. In Victoria, there are several types. One type is through the 'power of attorney' laws. Another is when VCAT appoints a 'guardian'. When completing advance care planning, you must nominate a substitute decision-maker. This person has the power to make decisions about medical treatment for you if you can't communicate or make decisions.

Supported resident

A supported resident is someone whose accommodation costs are fully or partly paid by Government funding.

Terminal phase

In palliative care, the terminal phase is the final phase of a person's life, meaning they will die within hours. At this point, palliative care extends to grief and bereavement care.

Transition care

Transition care is short-term specialised care and support to help you recover after being in the hospital. It aims to give back your independence and confidence. It can happen in an aged care home, in your own home or in your community.