Nursing Homes & Hostels

/Vic/Nursing_home/nhh1.htx Residential care - the basics


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What is residential care?

This is care provided to older people who are living in some type of residential service.

The types of residential care services available in Victoria include:

Residents' rights are different, depending on the type of residential service they live in. We will be focussing on the rights in a hostel and nursing home.

What's a hostel?

This is accommodation used by people who need help with domestic tasks and personal care. For example, washing, taking medication or dressing.

Hostels are sometimes part of a retirement village complex, or may be a modified home or purpose-built.

Most hostel residents have their own room with either an en-suite bathroom or shared facilities. There are also common areas such as a dining room, lounge etc.

The services and facilities offered vary from hostel to hostel. Meals, laundry, recreational services and assistance with daily tasks are usually provided. Some hostels also run special programs, eg programs for residents with dementia.

Hostels offer respite care services as well as long term accommodation. Respite care can be used when a carer needs a rest, or when an older person needs short term convalescence.

A serviced apartment is very similar to a hostel. The main difference is that the room may be larger and there may be more options in terms of the services that can be provided.

What's a nursing home?

This is accommodation used by people who need either long term or respite nursing care. The services include: help with daily tasks; meals and laundry services; full time nursing care and recreational and therapy services.

There is ongoing nursing care and staff may include: a director of nursing, registered nurses, nurse assistants/personal care assistants, occupational therapists/activities officers, and domestic staff. Doctors are called in when needed.

Nursing homes are located either in a retirement village complex, a hospital, or within purpose built or adapted buildings. Residents often share a room, except in the more expensive nursing homes where a resident may have a private room.

What laws apply?

The laws that apply to residential care are the:

What are my rights?

Your rights and your obligations will be spelt out in the agreement that you sign with the owner. But you also have statutory rights - these are set out in the Aged Care Act and the Principles and cover issues such as maximum fees, when you can be asked to leave, your rights to see financial information about the hostel or nursing home, etc. There is a general statement of your rights in the Charter of Residents' Rights and Responsibilities, which is part of the Principles.

Moving in

Before moving in to a hostel or nursing home, you must be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team. These teams are often located in hospitals and can come out to your home to assess the level of care that you need.

Once you are assessed as needing residential care, there are a number of important issues you need to think about.

We have listed them in our Residential Care Checklist. Some of them are:


There are different types of fees you can be asked to pay when you move into a hostel or nursing home. More information about these fees is in our Ongoing Fees and Accommodation Charges fact sheets.


There are three different types of agreement that you are likely to be given when you move into a nursing home or hostel. They are:

For more information see our Agreements fact sheet.

Legal words

The Aged Care Act contains a number of words and phrases, such as:

  • certified

a nursing homes and hostel must be certified before they can charge an accommodation bond.

  • concessional resident

a resident who:

  • is a pensioner; and
  • has not owned their home in the last two years. If they have, it must not have been occupied by a spouse or dependent or a carer or close relative (who is eligible for a pension) for the past five years; and
  • has assets worth less than 2.5 times the amount of the basic pension.
  • financial hardship

a resident who:

  • has been a homeowner; and
  • a carer (who is eligible for a pension) has lived in the home for the past two years; and
  • has assets worth less than 2.5 times the amount of the basic pension.
  • high level care

the equivalent of nursing home care.

  • low level care

the equivalent of hostel care.

  • residential care services

the name used for what used to be called nursing home and hostels.



Read this: This fact sheet is intended to be general information about the law in New South Wales. It is not substitute for legal or other professional advice. Lawscape Communications P/L does not accept responsibility for loss to any person, who either acts or does not act because of this fact sheet.

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