This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about supported residential services, how they operate, the services they provide and the fees they can charge.

About supported residential services

  • What is an SRS?

    Supported residential services (SRS) are privately owned and operated businesses that provide accommodation for people who need support in everyday life, for example, people who are frail, aged or have a mental or physical disability. The Department of Health & Human Services registers and monitors SRS under the Supported Residential Services (Private Proprietors) Act 2010 and the Supported Residential Services (Private Proprietors) Regulations 2012.

    SRS proprietors determine the people they accommodate, the services they provide and the fees they charge. Some SRS cater for aged residents and others cater for younger residents or people with a disability.

    People are not assessed before they move into an SRS. Where an SRS has a vacancy, a person can move in as long as the services to be provided and the fees to be charged have been agreed with the proprietor.

  • Who lives in SRS?

    People living in SRS are usually mobile but need support or supervision with daily tasks and personal care such as showering, preparing meals, or managing their medication. Some residents require support because they have mental health issues, an intellectual or other disability, dementia or age related frailty.

    Resident populations may differ between SRS, with some providing services for a mostly older population. Other SRS provide services for a younger or mixed population.

  • What services are provided by SRS?

    The level and type of personal support services and accommodation each SRS offers will vary. Some SRS have a range of facilities and services on site, while others offer fewer services. Accommodation may be provided in single rooms or may be shared.

    All SRS provide some level of personal support to each resident, which may include:

    • helping with personal hygiene/showering, toileting or dressing
    • providing meals, and helping with eating and maintaining adequate nutrition
    • administering medication or supervising self-administered medication
    • achieving and maintaining mobility
    • helping residents to contact doctors and other health providers, social networks, family and friends, and to participate in community activities and events.

    Most SRS also provide a range of onsite activities; for example gentle exercise, arts and crafts, games and gardening.

    An SRS may help residents attend government funded services or services may visit the SRS. These services may include allied health, mental health, disability services and neighbourhood houses.

    SRS residents must meet the same eligibility criteria for government funded services as other people in the community. SRS residents are not eligible for Home and Community Care services (HACC), which are already provided by the SRS such as delivered meals, home care, home maintenance and personal care. SRS residents may be eligible for other HACC services such as home nursing, social support and allied health.

    The SRS manager or personal support coordinator will know how to access these services or you can ask your local council or community health service.

  • Do I need an assessment to get into an SRS?

    No. You don’t need an assessment before you move into an SRS.

    Each SRS has an intake and referral process. The service finds out about your health and personal support needs to see if it’s right for you and if it can provide the services you need.

  • Where can I find an SRS?

    SRS operate in the community in purpose-built facilities or in modified buildings. Whatever the type of building, SRS proprietors must provide a clean, comfortable and well maintained environment.

    To find an SRS in your area, try:

    • the department's register of supported residential services
    • the Aged Care Guide
    • your local council
    • the 'homes - special accommodation' section of the Yellow Pages
  • Who runs and works in SRS?

    The proprietor (either a person or company) owns and operates an SRS and is approved to hold a Certificate of Registration from the Department of Health and Human Services. The SRS must employ an adequate number of appropriately trained staff, including a personal support coordinator (PSC), personal support staff and ancillary staff.

    Staffing levels are based on the number of residents and the level of support they need. Generally, an SRS with a large number of residents or residents with high support needs employ more staff.

    Personal support staff must be able to meet each resident’s needs in a timely manner and according to the support plan. To ensure staff comply with the personal support requirements, additional ancillary staff members may need to be on duty.

  • Who will look after me at the SRS?

    SRS have a personal support coordinator (PSC) who oversees the daily personal support residents receive. The PSC must have appropriate training and qualifications to work at the SRS.

    Some SRS have a manager as well as a PSC.

    All SRS must meet minimum staffing levels:

    • one staff member for every 30 residents, plus extra staff to provide the personal support residents need (if necessary)
    • at least one staff person on duty must have first aid training
    • at least one staff member onsite overnight. Usually, the staff member sleeps on the premises but can be woken if there are any first aid or emergency issues.

    Staffing levels can vary significantly between SRS.

  • What should I look for in an SRS?

    An SRS should suit your needs and budget. Arrange a visit before you move in, to see the accommodation and ask about the support services.

    All SRS should:

    • provide for residents’ needs
    • respect residents’ individuality and right to privacy
    • ensure residents are not subject to verbal, sexual or physical abuse, neglect or exploitation 
    • provide fair and equal treatment and promote residents’ independence
    • provide a supportive environment for residents and their family and friends
    • invite input from the resident and, where appropriate, their family, friends and healthcare providers about the support services they receive
    • use current care practices to support residents.

    The department provides the addresses and details of all registered SRS and also highlights any current compliance concerns about an SRS.

  • What is a Residential and Services Agreement?

    Your residential and services agreement (RSA) is a written agreement between you and the SRS about the items and services that you will receive for your fees. The SRS proprietor or manager must prepare an RSA in consultation with you and provide it to you within 48 hours of moving into the SRS.

    Your RSA must include the following information:

    • start date and duration of the RSA and how it can be changed or ended
    • details of the accommodation to be provided (such as, your room number)
    • the items and services the SRS will provide
    • the fees and charges you must pay, how these are to be paid and how often
    • the extra cost of any optional services the SRS may offer
    • how you will be told about changes to fees or services
    • the maximum amount of your money that the SRS can manage, if it provides this service
    • the terms and conditions for refunding your security deposit, fees in advance, reservation fee or establishment fee (if paid) and your right to apply to VCAT if the proprietor does not refund these payments in accordance with the terms and conditions
    • house rules and routines at the SRS for example, when meals will be served and when housekeeping will be done, whether smoking, alcohol or pets are allowed
    • how you can make a complaint about the SRS including to the department or to a community visitor
    • when you can be asked to vacate, how much notice you must receive, your right to apply to VCAT if you disagree with the notice
    • health and community services in the local area.

    You should check that the information in your RSA is consistent with the Information for Prospective Residents document you received before you moved in. You may be able to negotiate special conditions with the proprietor.

  • What are the costs?

    Your residential and services agreement (RSA) must describe all your fees and charges, and how the proprietor will inform you of changes. Prospective residents should also receive a description of the SRS’ fees and charges.

    The proprietor must itemise all charges and fees, and explain them to you. They are only allowed to charge for specific items (see Table 1).

    Fee type

    Explanation

    Maximum amount

    Requirements

    Accommodation and personal support fees

    Cover your accommodation and personal support needs.

    There are no limits on accommodation and support fees. They range from a portion of the pension plus rent assistance, to more than $1000 a week.

    These fees must be detailed in your RSA. An SRS may charge separate fees for accommodation and support, or combine the two.

    Security deposit

    Covers any damage you or your visitors might cause, or unpaid fees.

    No more than one month’s accommodation and personal support fees, unless you ask to pay more.

    Proprietor must give you two copies of a signed condition report before you move in.

    This fee must be held in a trust account with separate records.

    Fees in advance

    Fees you’ve paid beyond the current billing period.

    No more than one month’s fees, unless you ask to pay more.

    This fee must be held in a trust account with separate records.

    Reservation fees

    Might be charged if you want the proprietor to reserve a place at the SRS for you until you move in.

    No more than 2 weeks’ fees. If you pay reservation fees and then move in, they must be deducted from the fees you’d otherwise pay for that period.

    Terms and conditions of refund/forfeiture must be explained in SRS’ information for prospective residents.

    Must be held in a trust account with separate records.

    Establishment fee

    Covers the cost of assessing your needs and setting up your support plan.

    No more than 2 weeks’ fees.

    Terms and conditions of refund/forfeiture must be explained in SRS’ information for prospective residents.

    Must be held in a trust account with separate records.

    Items or services purchased at the SRS

    Some SRS charge a single fee that covers all your needs. Others a basic fee but offer optional extras for purchase - such as hairdressing.

    No limits.

    Must be explained to you by proprietor.

    Table 1: Charges and fees itemised by an SRS.

  • What happens if I get sick?

    SRS staff must notify your doctor and next of kin and arrange for transport to the nearest hospital if your doctor is unavailable. Your doctor can visit the facility to conduct a medical examination and arrange for appropriate treatment.

  • Can I still use the services I used before moving into the SRS, for example, see my doctor, attend the day centre, etc?

    Yes. The SRS is your home and you can access the same services you did before you moved in. You can arrange these services with the proprietor before moving in. The SRS should include your personal support requirements in your ongoing support plan.

  • Can my friends and family visit?

    Yes. Check with the SRS for appropriate hours for visits.

  • Can I go out when I want to?

    Yes, but you should tell the SRS staff when you plan to return and if you will need a meal when you return.

  • Who is the ‘person nominated’?

    When you move into an SRS, you can nominate someone (such as a family member, friend, or carer) to receive information about the accommodation and personal support you receive from the SRS.

    The person you nominate can help you to make decisions and talk with the proprietor, manager, or personal support coordinator, but they cannot make decisions for you. In some circumstances the SRS will contact your nominated person, for example, if you are injured, become unwell, or are asked to vacate the SRS. Your nominated person may also be able to see your support plan and financial records.

    You do not have to nominate a person to receive information if you do not want to.

    The role of the nominated person is independent of and additional to the role of a guardian or administrator.

    In most cases, the proprietor, SRS staff, and close associates of the proprietor cannot be a resident’s nominated person.

  • How do I make a complaint?

    There are several options for making a complaint about SRS.

  • What is a support plan?

    When you move into an SRS, the personal support coordinator or manager will talk with you about your health, personal support, social and emotional needs. With your permission, they may also speak with your nominated person, family, doctor and other service providers.

    The SRS uses this information to develop a support plan with you, which identifies your needs and the services the SRS will provide to help meet those needs. The plan includes your health conditions and dietary needs, medications, regular health appointments, assistance needs and social activities.

    There are two types of support plans:

    • The interim support plan details your immediate personal support needs. The SRS must complete the interim plan 48 hours after you move in.
    • The ongoing support plan is a detailed plan. The SRS must complete the ongoing plan 28 days after you move in. The plan is updated at least every six months or sooner if your health or support needs change.
  • What can I bring to an SRS?

    SRS accommodation can be single or shared rooms that contain a bed, side table and wardrobe.

    There is usually only space for clothing and small personal items. If you want to bring other items, discuss this with the manager before moving in.

    Most SRS do not cater for pets, but you can discuss bringing a pet with the manager.

  • What if I want to move out of the SRS?

    If you decide to leave your SRS, let the manager know when you intend to leave.

    Your RSA may specify the period of notice you must give to the SRS if you leave. The proprietor cannot make you give more than 28 days’ notice of your intention to leave.

    If your RSA does not specify a notice period, you must give the proprietor at least two days’ notice.

    If the SRS manages your financial affairs ensure the SRS returns all amounts you are owed.

    If your Centrelink payment is debited directly to the SRS advise Centrelink as soon as possible about your intention to move.

    You will also need to move your personal property out of the SRS.

    If your RSA has a fixed end date, for example you receive respite care for a fixed time, then neither you nor the proprietor need to give notice.

  • What is a notice to vacate?

    If the proprietor asks you to leave the SRS, they will give you a notice to vacate. The amount of time you are given to leave the SRS depends on the reason for the notice.

    You cannot be asked to leave an SRS without a valid reason, for example, you may be more than two weeks behind in paying your fees or you caused damage to the SRS.

    If you receive a notice to vacate and you believe the SRS did not give the proper amount of notice or a valid reason, you can challenge the notice at VCAT (within certain time limits). The proprietor can also apply to VCAT for an order requiring you to leave if you haven’t left by the time the notice expires.

    For more information see Living in a SRS - guide for residents and prospective residents (Section 12 Notices to Vacate pages 52-56)