Making the move to aged care is a big decision, both financially and in terms of your lifestyle, and is a common choice for many older people who are no longer able to live on their own. When considering aged care options, it’s a good idea to understand the do’s and don’ts of aged care facilities. Here are some of the most important.
DO visit your doctor before making a decision
It’s wise to get a health assessment before deciding to start the aged care process. Of course, you’ll be assessed by My Aged Care as part of the process, but your doctor is best placed to help you decide if it’s time to consider a move into aged care – and when.
DO get expert advice
All the sometimes-confusing decisions regarding ageing, health, finances and aged care don’t have to be made alone. Make sure you get expert advice before making any decision – from an aged care placement agent, a specialist lawyer, home valuer, mover or financial advisor. These experts should be able to give you specific advice for your unique situation, and help you make the best decisions and reach the best outcomes.
DO make peace with the rules
While aged care facilities don’t attempt to restrict your freedom significantly (you should be able do as you please as long as it’s safe), they do all come with their own terms and conditions regarding certain things you can and can’t do. Before you commit to an aged care community, find out all about your rights and responsibilities, and make sure you can abide by them before you decide to move in.
DO research a few facilities
You may have an aged care home in mind, but it’s always wise to research your options before you commit. Discover the names of different aged care homes in your area, and do some research online. Also ask around, and see what people are saying about these facilities, as word of mouth is extremely powerful. And check freely available audit and quality reports – you can find more info at My Aged Care:
DO have a list of ‘must haves’ for your chosen aged care home
Every one of us is unique and each of us has things that are non-negotiables in where and how we want to live. Create a list of your non-negotiables – do you want to bring your pet to your home? Is a busy social calendar of activities a must? Do you need to be located close to friends and family? Is gourmet food what you need? Whatever they are, write them down – that will make it much easier to assess different facilities and make your decision.
DO visit the aged care home before you commit
Seeing a village online or in photos, and seeing it in person are two entirely different things. Wherever possible, make it a point to visit in person each aged care facility you are considering, so you can assess the atmosphere and condition of your potential new home. If it’s an area new to you, you can also get a feel for the location and whether it might be somewhere you’d like to live.
DO come with a list of questions for the home operator
When visiting aged care facilities, come prepared with a list of questions you need answered – and note down the answers to ensure you don’t forget them. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of visiting, and forget about some of the essentials you really need to know to make the best decision.
DO understand the costs and fees
There are a variety of costs involved in residential aged care, and you need to understand what fees you will have to pay and when. Exactly how much you will need to pay will depend on the home you choose to live in, the level of care you require, and your assets and income, as assessed in your aged care assessment. It can be a little complex to understand for the uninitiated, but persist and make sure you know exactly what is expected.
Do decide which payment methods will work out best for you (for example – paying fees in full or part lump sum, or paying less or more on your deposit) – there are pros and cons for each, and your individual situation will determine which options are best for you. It’s important to fully understand your financial obligations before signing any contract.
Click here to read a more in depth summary of the costs involved with aged care.
DO check for eligible subsidies
The government subsidises aged care homes across Australia to ensure affordable, accessible care, so check if you are eligible for any subsidies. The government will contribute more if you have less capacity to pay for your care.
DO check the proximity of transport, shopping centres, medical facilities and community amenities
Even if you currently own a car, you may need to give up driving at some point in the future, so it’s wise to check what community facilities are nearby or easily accessible via public transport.
Do make your decision based on cost, care, quality, and ease of visiting for family
Each of these are important, and it’s best to make a logical and well-thought-through decision that has recognisable benefits, rather than basing your decision on feelings or hunches.
DO ensure intake forms are completed accurately
Filling out forms may be painful, but don’t be tempted to skimp on the process. Check if pension payments, income and assets are listed accurately, and if existing concessions are correctly recorded. Make sure Centrelink is updated on any changes, too.
DO contact My Aged Care for help
If you are having any difficulties with the process, My Aged Care has a variety of systems in place to help you. Get in contact with them here.
DON’T rush your decision
The last thing you want is to rush the decision and then be stuck in a facility that doesn’t really meet your needs or suit your requirements. It’s important to check everything thoroughly and not make a hasty choice. Get all your questions answered and make sure the facility really is a good match for you before committing. And you don’t have to decide after just one visit – you can visit as many times as you like before deciding to commit.
Having said that however –
DON’T leave it till the last minute
While you don’t want to rush your decision, you also don’t want to leave it until the last minute to choose an aged care facility and get the process started. The whole process takes some time, so allow yourself some breathing room and get started earlier than you think you need to.
DON’T forget estate planning
Finding and entering an aged care facility is just one step in the process – there are plenty of others you’ll need to consider. Don’t forget about estate planning, which includes powers of attorney, wills, advanced care directive, final care and funeral planning.
DON’T break the rules
The rules and expectations in aged care communities are there for a reason, so do everything you can to stay within them. This shouldn’t be a problem if you thoroughly examined your rights and responsibilities before committing to the care home.