The Aged Care Assessment Program (ACAP) was first introduced in the 1983–84 Federal Budget as the Geriatric Assessment Program. The ACAP is an initiative of the Commonwealth Government who, within a cooperative working arrangement, provide grants to the State and Territory governments specifically for the operation of Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs) and Evaluation Units. In addition, State and Territory governments also contribute significant financial resources to the Program.

The ACAP is an important part of Australia’s aged and community care system. The overall objective of the program is ‘to comprehensively assess the needs of frail older people and facilitate access to available care services appropriate to their needs’. ACATs undertake comprehensive assessments which involve the evaluation of the care needs of a person incorporating the restorative, physical, medical, psychological, cultural and social dimensions of care. A comprehensive assessment by an ACAT may result in the person’s approval for entry into a residential aged care service (at a high or low level of care) on a permanent basis or for respite care; or approval as a recipient of a Community Aged Care Package to provide a range of services to meet needs in the home; or approval as a recipient of Flexible Care (e.g. as a recipient of an Extended Aged Care at Home package). Although ACATs assess a person’s eligibility to receive care in a residential aged care service, at either a high or a low level of care, they cannot admit a person to a residential aged care service. This decision rests with residential aged care providers.