Preparing to move into residential aged care
Sometimes a family member or a friend needs help suddenly – for example if they’ve had a stroke. Other times, it’s a gradual process as physical changes slowly make it harder for them to care for themselves at home. When this time comes it’s important to realise that you are not alone in helping your loved ones.
There are often signs that an aged care facility should be considered. These include:
- significant difficulties with mobility
- severe continence problems
- challenging behaviour
- severe communication problems
- difficulties in thinking, planning and remembering
- depression or anxiety
- isolation and loneliness
- sleeping & eating poorly
- poor hygiene & dirty living environment
- empty refrigerator or rotting food
- bruises or cuts from falls
When you start to notice these changes or occurrences then it is time to ask for help from aging specialists.
What are the options for aged care?
Homes for the aged are available across Australia for older people who can no longer live at home and there is a need to plan for long-term accommodation and care. This is known as ‘residential aged care’. Reasons can include illness, disability, bereavement, an emergency, the needs of their carer, family or friends, or because it is no longer possible to manage at home without help. Australia’s aged care system aims to ensure that all older people receive support and quality care when they need it.
There are two broad types of aged care - low level and high level. Low level care homes (formerly known as hostels) generally provide accommodation and personal care, such as help with dressing and showering, together with occasional nursing care. High level care homes (previously known as nursing homes) care for people with a greater degree of frailty, who often need continuous nursing care.
Aged care homes also cater for those who need short periods of care away from their home. This is known as respite care. If they need less care than that offered by aged care homes you may wish to consider independent living units or retirement villages. These residential communities offer a range of services for independent older people, and are regulated by State and Territory Governments. Commonwealth Carelink Centres can provide you with information on the types of alternative accommodation in your area.
What level of care is right?
Whether you’re caring for someone at home or considering an aged care home, there are many services available to help you to determine best level of care at the current point in time. If you want to check whether your loved one is eligible for residential aged care, your first step is to contact an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT or ACAS in Victoria). ACATs provide information on suitable care options and can help arrange access or referral to appropriate residential or community care services such as Home and Community Care (HACC).
The ACAT team is usually based at a hospital or community centre and may include a doctor, nurse, social worker, physiotherapist or occupational therapist. This team will give your family member a free assessment. Basically this means they’ll discuss their ability to wash, dress, go to the shops and get through daily living activities. The team member who comes to their home will then be able to discuss the level of support they feel is required and help you consider your options. To contact an Aged Care Assessment Service in your location phone 1800 500 853.
How to prepare for the discussion
If your family member or friend is not open to the idea of receiving help then it is a good idea to contact ACAT for a general discussion on how to go about preparing them. You can also speak to your family doctor and if you have an Aged Care facility in mind you could even approach the manager to discuss the best way to prepare them.
Aged Care Home Finder
Once the level of care you need is assessed and approved by your local Aged Care Assessment Team you have the right to apply to aged care homes of your choice that meet your needs and preferences. Aged care homes receive funding from the Australian Government. Aged care services in Australia are operated by religious, charitable and community organisations, private businesses and state/territory and local governments.
What happens when an Aged Care Facility is not the right option?
For many people, living in the comfort of their own home is an important part of growing older, but for some older people this may become difficult without extra help. This is where “in-home help” and community care services come into the picture – providing help with everything from housework, shopping and preparing meals and personal care, to assistance getting out and about for social activities and doctors appointment. There are a whole range of services that can be provided for seniors in their own homes.
Moving into an aged care facility can be a challenging time for the new resident, their family and loved ones. Having additional support at this time, from a caring professional or friends and family who understand your situation, can make all the difference and help ease the transition to residential care, for all concerned. Make sure that as the carer of your loved one that you take advantage of all the support, services and facilities that are available.
Danielle Robertson is the CEO of DIAL-AN-ANGEL®. Established in 1967 it is the only national agency specialising in the provision of home and family care. The company provides Visiting Angels® for in-home nursing, eldercare-at-home®, respite care, palliative and convalescent care, as well as child care, housekeeping services, handyman services, in-home entertaining and corporate functions. Phone 1300 721 111
Contact us for a free, no-obligation quote or to make a general enquiry.
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