SRS care- photo of an older lady with curly grey hair and grey cardigan holding a small brown Maltese type puppy

Residential care versus Supported Residential Services (SRS/SRF): What's the difference?

When you're looking at options for out-of-home care, Supported Residential Services (SRS in Victoria; Supported Residential Facilities or SRF in other states) might be a possibility, depending on your circumstances. They're a private-sector alternative to residential care, registered and monitored by the Department of Health and Human Services but not Government-funded and not covered by the 1997 Aged Care Act.
So in practical terms, what exactly does that mean? Here's what you need to know about SRS.

Who pays?

This is the big difference: SRS accommodation is not Government subsidised. So if you're considering an SRS, the first question to ask yourself is whether you can cover the cost without any help.

Who lives there?

Another key difference between SRS and residential aged care facilities is that SRS are not specifically for older Australians. This kind of accommodation can be for anyone who needs support in everyday life- that may be people who are aged or frail, or it could be those with an intellectual or physical disability. The residential mix differs between SRS facilities, with some specialising in aged care and others focusing on a younger or mixed crowd.

Do I need an assessment?

Unlike Government-funded residential care, you don't need to have an Aged Care Assessment to live in an SRS. Each SRS will have their own intake process to ensure that they can meet your needs, but entering is simply based on an agreement between you and the SRS; rather like a rental agreement.

What kind of care is offered?

The level and type of accommodation and services varies between SRS- this is something for you to investigate when you're looking for one that suits you. All of them will provide a basic level of every day support, usually including:

  • assistance with personal care such as showering and dressing,

  • meals,

  • help managing and administering medication,

  • help with doctor and other medical appointments, community activities, social visits, etc.

It's important to note that if you live in an SRS you're still eligible to access Government-funded services such as allied health, mental health, disability services and neighbourhood houses. The SRS might provide support for you visit these services, or the services may come to the facility.
However, as a resident of an SRS, you are not eligible for Home and Community Care (HACC) services like delivered meals, home care and personal care, which are already provided by the SRS.

What are the costs?

Each SRS is free to set their own fees and charges, and these will vary depending on the quality of the accommodation and level of care and services offered. Under the conditions of their registration they're only allowed to charge you for certain items, and these must be laid out in a Residential and Services Agreement. Before choosing an SRS, make sure you understand all the fees and charges that apply.

How do I choose an SRS?

Visit the SRS before signing anything, to see the accommodation and ask about the services offered. Ensure that your needs are provided for, that you have access to any external services that you need, and that you understand (and can cover) all the fees and costs. A social worker or health professional will also be able to help you understand the options open to you.