Your loved one requires aged care - now what?
29th January 2019
Your loved one requires aged care – now what?
Being told your loved one requires aged care can be a daunting experience and the sheer volume of options and decisions to be made can feel overwhelming. Here’s how to get started and feel supported.
If you’re one of their primary caregivers, or steering the ship solo, it's not unusual to feel upset by the reversal of your roles and some grief at the changes ahead. Then there are the practicalities to consider. The aged care system can be confusing to navigate in the beginning. There is a lot of information and options out there, which can make for a lot of reading, phone conversations, checking out various options and facilities. That said, there are plenty of support services available to help.
Staying mentally well
It’s vital you look after yourself and counselling might help. A therapist offers an unbiased professional ear who you can talk to honestly and openly without feeling you must hold back to spare other people’s feelings. They can also help you build a toolkit of coping strategies and show you how to monitor your mental wellbeing, so you can recognise signs you are burning out and need to de-stress or seek respite care. You can chat to your GP about a mental health plan that allows you to access up to 10 heavily subsidised therapy sessions with a counsellor and you can find a local therapist through the Australia Psychological Society.
The Caregiver Gateway is the government’s portal for caregivers and provides handy tips and contact information for free phone counselling services – or you can free call 1800 422 737 for support and advice.
Starting to navigate the aged care system
While the person requiring care will no doubt be provided with information at the time aged care is recommended, it doesn’t hurt to do a little reading of your own. MyAgedCare.gov.au is the Australian Government’s portal for information on accessing aged care. You can also call them on 1800 200 422 and they’ll ask a series of questions to help determine your loved ones needs and care arrangements, which will take around 10 minutes. Have your loved one’s Medicare card ready and be aware that they’ll need to give consent if you call on their behalf.
To find out what care and services they are eligible for, including what level of care they require and what their priority status is, you will need to organise a free face-to-face assessment. This needs to be organised through MyAgedCare.gov.au who will arrange for a trained assessor to come to your home. They will also work with you to develop a support plan which addresses your loved one’s needs, goals and preferences.
What services are available?
The two main choices for older people are to stay in their home with in-home care and services helping to remain independent, or move into an aged care home, where food, accommodation and care (including nursing services if required) are provided.
o Care at home services may include -
- Personal care, meals and household help.
- Modifications to your home like handrails and ramps and equipment like walking frames.
- Nursing, physiotherapy and other care.
- Social activities.
o Short-term help - the provision of care services for situations including recovery from an accident or illness, following a hospital stay, or when you need a break (respite care).
o Care in an aged care home - for those requiring ongoing help with day-to-day tasks or health care, a residential aged care home provides a supported environment where help is available 24 hours a day.
The service finder on the MyAgedCare.gov.au or can also help you find service providers in your local area. As it can be a time consuming process, it never hurts to get started, early if possible.