Georgia Dixon

Caring

Demystifying your aged care options

Demystifying your aged care options

With over three decades of experience in the aged care and disability care industries, Danielle Robertson mainly works with financial advisers and planners, accountants, lawyers and estate planners, social workers and GP’s navigating and assisting their patients, family or friends with options for aged care.

When we think of aged care, most people think that it means moving into residential care (nursing homes) until the end of life. People who enter residential care have to face their own mortality so it’s understandable that commencing the process of looking for aged care can be daunting. There is fear, uncertainty and doubt. It tends to bring on feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious. It brings up discussions that most of us are not comfortable with. The big question is: where do you start?

You will need to investigate, research and understand what’s available for you and how much it is likely to cost. And with a tsunami of baby boomers coming and all looking for aged care, working with professionals to plan early is your best solution.

Entering residential care may not be your wish, but in reality some people have no option due to their high care needs, fiscal restrictions or severity of illness, injury or disability. Residential care facilities are suitable for people with high level care needs and also end-of-life care. There are some good quality care facilities out there, but how do you choose the right one for you? How do you know if the care being provided is of top quality?

Aged care options

Many people are unaware that there are other options available for aged care. Financial advisers, accountants, estate planners, lawyers, social workers and GP’s are now being educated to start difficult discussions of care options with their patients. We are working with them to educate them not to be “blinkered” about advising people to sell their homes and move into residential care.

Other care options include, but are not limited to retirement living which allows people to live independently until care is needed (with care available on site at some villages or out-sourced when it’s needed), group homes (mainly for dementia care for up to 10 residents at this time), assisted living, respite care, hospital in the home and in home care.

Staying at home

From my 30-plus years’ experience I can tell you that most people wish to remain at home if they can. Staying in your own home may be easier than you think with in-home care, which allows you to remain at home for as long as you want. There are support and services that will help you live independently, healthily and safely, in the comfort of your own home.

The Government is encouraging people to remain at home for as long as possible and have developed Home Care packages to assist people. However, not everyone is able to obtain one. The Government only has “one bucket of money” and they are hoping that those with their own financial means will pay for and obtain their own care. People from low socioeconomic will receive the care they need. It is recommended that you and your trusted advisers investigate what you can receive from the Government prior to paying for supplementing care with a “fee for service” provider.

If you’re entitled to receive a package, how do you know that it’s enough help? From my many years of experience in the industry, it’s usually not enough assistance. Even the Department of Veteran Affairs, which has a slightly more generous amount of support, many times falls short. You will need to need to ensure there is adequate coverage for care but if not, you may need to consider outsourcing additional care/support services.

Why you need to consider your choices today

You need to start thinking about aged care and the options available now. People in their 60s, with ageing parents and relatives, need to have the difficult conversation with their loved ones so that everyone is on the same page. 

What usually happens is that a “life event” or emergency situation occurs and the decisions must be made quickly. Usually not fully informed, the decision may not provide the best outcome for the older person. The hospital or rehabilitation facility requires the bed and they hand the family a list of residential care facilities. It is then up to the family to sort out the maze of facilities, vacancies and costs involved for their relative.

When the family have not research or planned they are not at all prepared or equipped to consider options, they end up quickly admitting their relative into any aged care facility. Too often the long process of finding a better, more suitable place only then commences. It becomes tiring, frustrating and extremely stressful for all family members and their advisers. Many of who are already time poor and unable to dedicate the very time consuming and costly navigation of the aged care and disability care systems. I don’t believe that this is an acceptable or desirable outcome. It’s why you need to consider your options today.

Find more at Danielle Robertson Consulting.

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