Moving into a rest home or residential care facility can be an expensive undertaking. Who pays? There is a Government residential care subsidy or loan available, however, it is financial means assessed so it is crucial that you understand how it works and how you or a loved one’s circumstances may be treated, prior to applying.

We can provide advice on the asset threshold limits, available exemptions and different ways to structure your assets to allow you the best opportunity to qualify.

The earlier you speak with us, the more options we usually have available to us to assist you.


What is residential care?

Residential care includes the following types of long-term care provided in a rest home or hospital: rest home care, continuing care (hospital), dementia care and specialised hospital care (psychogeriatric care). Long-term residential care does not include independent living in a retirement village.

Who is responsible for funding residential care?

District health boards (DHBs) are responsible for funding residential care services for older people under the Social Security Act 1964. DHBs have a contract with rest home or hospital owners to provide long-term residential care to residents who are eligible for government funding through the residential-care subsidy.

Do only certain care facilities qualify for funding?

Only rest homes or hospitals that have achieved Certification under the Health and Disability Services (Safety) Act 2001 and comply with the Health and Disability Sector Standards 2001 can have a contract with DHBs. The Residential Care Subsidy is paid directly to your rest home or hospital.

How does someone qualify for a residential care subsidy?

To be eligible for government-subsidised residential care you must be aged 65 or over; or aged between 50 and 64, unmarried and with no dependent children. You must then be formally assessed as ‘needing care’. The assessment, called a ‘needs assessment’, must be carried out by a Needs Assessment and Services Coordination agency (NASC). Your GP can help arrange for an assessment to be carried out. The bar for entry to residential care is higher than many people expect. You are likely to be eligible for residential care if you have ‘high’ or ‘very high’ needs and cannot be safely cared for at home. You will then be financially means assessed to see if you qualify.

How is the subsidy financially means assessed?

The Ministry of Social Development (through Work and Income) carries out a financial means assessment that considers your assets and income, and any gifting that has occurred. If your assets are equal to or below the asset threshold, you will qualify for the subsidy to pay for most of the cost of your care. The income test then determines what you will have to contribute to the cost of your care from any income you receive.

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