How to Choose the Best Aged Care Home For Mum or Dad in Melbourne

Work out your parent's care needs | Make a shortlist | Book in a home tour

Updated 29th February 2024  |  5 minute read

By Jesse Gramenz 

hawthorn aged care resident and staff member laughing in resident bedroom

The right level of care, close to you, at the right budget that works for your loved ones, mum and dad and the whole family: that's the goal. And we've got 3 steps to get you started: 

Step 1: Work out your parent's care needs

An ACAT assessment helps you know exactly the type of care and support you need. Without a clear understanding of what your needs are, choosing the right aged care home is nearly impossible.

 You could find the perfect home without an ACAT, but find out soon after that they can't actually provide the right level of care that you're looking for.

So, before anything else, make sure you’ve had your ACAT assessment. 

Call us on 1800 841 490 to get started. We can help prepare you for what the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) might ask, and how to get the most out of your assessment.

Read on:

Step 2: Make a shortlist of different homes

There's over 750 aged care providers in Victoria and hundreds in Melbourne alone, so where do you start when looking for the home that works for your loved one and family?

a map of all of the aged care homes in melbourne marked in redAll of the aged care providers in Melbourne (    


 Narrow down the search

Here’s some questions to ask, or things to consider when looking for homes to add to your shortlist: 

  1. Are the services you need available? (see Step 1)
  2. How much does it cost? Even with government assistance, there still may be fees you will be charged. 
  3. Are they nearby family or someone who can visit?
  4. Do their values align with your own? 
  5. Would you prefer to live and be cared for by a not-for-profit provider or a aged care business?

a group of aged care residents sitting next to each other on a park bench in hawthornA great aged care home is made by its community. No community means no home.


Remember: Always preference quality of care over the quality of buildings. If you can get both then that is ideal, but it’s always better to have good care in an older home than bad care in a newer home. 

When you have a good idea of providers that answer the above questions, make a shortlist of the homes that work best for you and your family. Now that you have a list, you can request to tour locations to see them for yourself in person.


Top aged care providers and how much they cost in Melbourne*


Aged Care Provider


Minimum Single Room Cost w/Private Ensuite (RAD)

St Vincent’s Care
















































 Costs accurate as at 29th Feb 2024*

While the above is only a sampling from a few providers over a few different locations, you can see the variations in prices for yourself. 

Because of these variations, it's important you take the time to compare locations in a vicinity that works best for you. Compare apples to apples in similar suburbs and neighbourhoods and you'll have the best shot at getting the best value home for you.

Cost saving tip: Don't forget to ask a provider if the price they have listed is the best price they can do on the room. Some might be willing to do you a discount.

Key providers in Melbourne that can help you on your search

Aged Care Guide:

a screenshot of aged care guide Melbourne in Google search results

Aged Care Online:

a screenshot of Aged Care Online Melbourne in Google search results

Not only will these organisations help you collate a list of providers that work for you, they can help you make an unbiased decision for what kind of home will work best for you.

If you're still feeling stuck though, at St Vincent's we have a key team of staff that can help you get started in aged care.

Read on:

Step 3: Book in a tour of the aged care home

The tour is arguably the most important part in choosing an aged care home. Here is where you can meet a skilled admissions coordinator to help you navigate the aged care system and when you’re there, you can keep an eye out for the signs that the home could be the right one for you. 

Here are the things to consider (and ask) when on tour:

Does it feel welcoming?

You know when a place feels right.  A well-kept home is a reflection of the care. 

  1. Do people smile and say ‘hello’ as you walk by? Does the home ‘feel’ welcoming? Learn to trust your instincts in this, they can often be right!
  2. Does it look clean? Does it smell nice and fresh? These can be some important indicators as to the quality of the care of the home and how attentive staff are. 
  3. Does the home have nice spaces with art, flowers, and decorations? Does it have natural light and interesting views?
  4. Are the gardens and grounds looked after?
  5. Are there different spaces to enjoy with other residents and visiting families as well as smaller spaces for more personal interactions? 

an aged care resident in Kew holding the hand of a staff memberWhen you tour an aged care home, you'll know whether it's right or not. Trust your gut!


Remember: When choosing a home, focus on care. A home can have all the fancy fittings and amenities in the world, but without proper care it will never be right for you. Find somewhere that feels like home. Somewhere with a community of staff and residents; not just the fanciest building on the block.

What is the leisure and lifestyle program like?

Residents are at their best when they are happy and engaged. The last thing you want is a loved one spending their days just sitting alone in a room. Ask about leisure and lifestyle calendars, get a feel for the community and, if you’re lucky, it’s great if you can see some activities in action too! 

 Things to look out for include:

  1. Are the staff and residents smiling? Is there plenty of activity in the home?
  2. Are there people left alone by themselves, or is everyone accounted for and having a good time?
  3. Do staff have friendly conversation with residents and each other?
  4. Are there engaging activities happening? Is there music and singing? 

St Vincent’s has an example lifestyle calendar you can view.

What is the food like?

Look for aged care homes that do their cooking fresh on site. You can request a tour at mealtimes to see and smell what the food is like and that can be a good measure of how the food is. Trying the food is maybe not the best idea as it is usually tailored to what residents like (and maybe not you) but certainly seeing and smelling what the food experience is like is worth doing. 

an aged care staff member at kew handing two residents cups of coffeeBesides quality staff, good food is the #2 most important thing families look for in an aged care home


 Also, ask if there are qualified chefs making the food and request a copy of the menu if it’s available. All of these little requests will go a long way in giving you confidence in the quality of the food in a home.

Check out an example of an aged care menu.


How can I be sure my loved ones are getting everything they need?

A question like this is a great lead in to identifying the style of care that’s offered. What you really want is a style of tailored care that treats every resident as an individual. 

An explanation of care plans and how these are tailored to each resident should be another important aspect of care that is brought up. If this isn’t a topic of conversation, you should make it one, as the style of care plays a major part in how your loved ones are looked after.


What checks are in place to ensure quality service is being provided? 

This is a question best directed at clinical staff, but it’s important you have peace of mind about how the process works for managing care plans and catering for changes in health.


Who will be providing the services - a nurse, aged care worker etc?

Similar to the above question, getting a clear understanding of the different roles in aged care is very important. Not only does it help in understanding who to ask for different questions, but it also helps you understand who you’ll be helped by the most day to day.

Will my services be provided by the same person each time? 

Continuity of care is really important. Having a consistent group of staff helps a home feel more stable and can also help residents be more settled, with familiar faces and a familiar routine. 

an aged care staff member kneeling down and laughing with a resident in hawthornConsistency and routine keeps everyone feeling seen, heard and comfortable in aged care


How are any concerns or complaints handled?

Having a clear path to concerns and complaints is essential. The last thing a family member wants is for them to turn their back and not know whether their loved one’s concerns are being paid attention to. Getting a clear understanding of the complaint or concern process is essential as both a resident and a family member.

The big question: Can you trust them?

The most important question to ask yourself is if you trust the home and/or provider. You are trusting a loved one into someone else’s hands. You don’t want to doubt the care and ability of the people caring for your loved ones when your back is turned.

  1. Is the provider forthcoming with information? 
  2. Can they answer all the questions you ask them?
  3. Are you confident that they can care for your loved one as well as you can?

To get a better understanding of the kind of qualifications and signs to look for in aged care staff, you can check out St Vincent’s staff information


Parting thoughts

You’ve looked at every possible option, taken notes and exhausted every question you could ask and you’ve finally arrived at a place where you can make a decision.

 While it isn’t always possible to be certain, by following some of the tips on this page, you can make the best decision with the information you have.

BUT, there is a lot more to aged care than tours and finding the right home. We've provided answers to some questions we get all the time when it comes to aged care that we hope will be of some help to you.



Still have questions?

st vincent's call centre worker