Supported Residential Service or SRS

Supported Residential Service or SRS Private Aged Care Homes

By Christine Hopper

What is Supported Residential Service or SRS?

A Supported Residential Service or SRS, is like a guest house or private hotel, offering short or long term accommodation, all meals in a dining room and communal activities together with some personal support.

Each Supported Residential Service or SRS, is operated as a small privately owned business.  Some SRS businesses operate two or three SRS but many own and operate just one SRS.

A typical Supported Residential Service or SRS, would be a purpose built residence including communal areas and about 30 single rooms each with its own ensuite bathroom.  Some SRS were originally large older style family homes that have been extended to provide facilities for additional guests.

The support services offered might be general help with the activities of daily living for older persons of sound mind but declining physical skills.

Some SRS cater for older residents with memory problems; these residents would still be capable of walking but need help with managing the activities of daily living.  A keypad security system reduces the chances of residents wandering away.

A minority of Supported Residential Services provide nursing care for residents who are no longer independently mobile.

The SRS that cater for elderly residents might look and feel like Commonwealth regulated aged care facilities.

Other SRS cater specifically for adults with an intellectual disability who are physically OK but need a secure and supportive home.

What services does an Supported Residential Service provide?

Each SRS operator decides what type and level of services are to be provided in their Supported Residential Service.  Prospective and new residents must be given a statement detailing the services to be provided and the fees charged.

Typically the SRS provides fully furnished bedrooms that are cleaned regularly, all meals plus morning and afternoon teas and supper in a dining room, personal laundry service, supervision of medication and recreational activities appropriate for their residents.

An SRS resident may be given notice to leave the SRS if the resident requires more health care or personal support than can be provided at that Supported Residential Service.

For example, if an elderly resident becomes too frail to get up off her bed and walk of the dining room then the SRS operator might ask her family to find her alternative accommodation in a facility that offers ‘high care’.

SRS residents can also be asked to leave if they habitually disturb the peace, comfort and privacy of the other residents.  The behaviours that resulted in the notice to vacate the SRS might be attributable to mental health or memory loss issues.  That the underlying cause of the disturbance is a health or medical matter does not prevent the SRS manager from requiring a resident to leave in order to maintain a safe, secure and clean environment for the other residents.

What does it cost to live in an Supported Residential Service, SRS?

Each Supported Residential Service determines its own fee level and payment terms.  An SRS is a small business hence the operator must budget to generate enough fee income to cover the regular running costs of the SRS and a contribution to the capital costs incurred in providing and equipping the facility.

A very basic SRS providing a supportive home for people who are physically competent could try to be affordable to people whose only income is the Age Pension, or Disability Support Pension, together with Rent Assistance from Centrelink.  The maximum fee a Centrelink Pensioner could afford is $363 per week at October 2012 rates; but this is less than the reasonable cost for the minimum level of accommodation and support services.

A modest suburban SRS providing a comfortable home for seniors who are slowing physically and possibly having some memory loss, might charge around $120 per day, that is, $840 per week in October 2012.  An additional fee of maybe $15 per day could be levied on residents who need direct personal assistance.

DVA might cover the full cost of a War Widow using her Respite entitlement for a short stay in a modest suburban SRS.

At the top of the range, luxury facilities which provide full nursing care together with an extensive program of cultural events might charge over $200 per day, that is, over $1,400 per week.

When would Supported Residential Service be more appropriate than Commonwealth Government regulated aged care?

Entry conditions
Entry into an Supported Residential Service is arranged between the potential resident and/or their family and the SRS manager.  Any adult can move into an SRS immediately provided that you ‘fit’ the care level offered and you have the financial resources to pay the SRS fees.

You can stay in the Supported Residential Service permanently or just for a week for ‘respite’ or recuperation after illness or surgery.  You can book for a short stay in an SRS while your usual carer is on holiday.

In contrast, you must obtain an ACAS Assessment before you may apply for a place in Commonwealth Government regulated aged care.  If your ACAS Assessment is only for Respite then you cannot stay more than about 3 weeks in an aged care facility as a respite resident.  You may come back for another spell of Respite at another time.

Moving on
An Supported Residential Service manager may ask you to leave if you need more health care or personal support than that SRS offers.

In contrast, as your needs increased a Commonwealth Government regulated aged care facility would provide you with the additional care or arrange for you to move to a ‘high care’ facility if you need more intensive care than your initial ‘low care’ placement can provide.

Just fixed fees or Commonwealth regulated ‘medical expenses’

Supported Residential Service residents pay a fixed fee rate irrespective of their financial means.  The fixed fee arrangement often suits self funded retirees particularly ‘couples at Centrelink’ who keep their finances separate.

In contrast, residents of Commonwealth Government regulated aged care pay fees which include means tested components determined by Centrelink or DVA.  Self funded retirees often prefer to maintain their financial privacy and not provide updated financial data to Centrelink every 3 months.

On the other hand, all fees paid to a Commonwealth Government regulated aged care facility in respect of a resident who receives some personal assistance with health or daily living activities, are ‘medical expenses’ for income tax purposes.  The basic fees that a resident pays to an Supported Residential Service are not ‘medical expenses’.

In summary, Supported Residential Service provide an alternative to Commonwealth Government regulated aged care for seniors who have the financial resources to meet the full costs of their care and accommodation.

Each family should check that the cost of living in their chosen Supported Residential Service is within their financial means before signing up for a ‘permanent’ or long term SRS placement. 

Christine Hopper of Financial Care Services can help you understand the Centrelink and DVA implications of SRS living.  An appointment with Financial Care Services could reassure the family that the chosen SRS is affordable.  Christine could advise you about options regarding the vacated family home.

If you would like further confidential, independent and professional advice about Centrelink, lifestyle or financial issues please contact Christine Hopper (03) 9808 0338.

Financial Care Services – call (03) 9808 0338
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is of a general nature only and does not constitute “financial advice”. You should obtain your own personal financial advice before investing any money or moving in to any retirement village, lifestyle community or aged care facility. Financial Care Services is licensed to provide financial advice to individual clients based on their personal situations. © 2012 Financial Care Services Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
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