Aged Care For A Family Member – Some Things To Consider

For anyone who has read any of my previous posts you will know that I am extremely passionate about Aged Care. I should be as it is the area in which I have chosen to dedicate my professional career and continue...

For anyone who has read any of my previous posts you will know that I am extremely passionate about Aged Care. I should be as it is the area in which I have chosen to dedicate my professional career and continue to strive to be its market leader. Those who are generous enough to take the time to read my thoughts will also know that this article is out of my normal schedule of publishing; but it is an article that I have felt compelled to write.

In my exposure to the Aged Care sector I have come to understand the emotional and sometimes heart-wrenching journeys that some care home staff, their residents, and those resident’s families go through. What makes me feel so compelled to write this article now is to offer some advice (and that of some of the aged care professionals I have discussed this matter with), to those people who may be involved in that difficult decision as to whether the time may be right to move their loved one into a care home.

Taking a decision to move an older family member into a care facility is certainly one of the most emotional moments you will experience in life for all concerned. It has many implications; it often forces that family member to accept that they are no longer able to be self sufficient, that they require help that their loving family cannot provide, and that all they have worked for and achieved in life will end in a community environment filled with strangers. This can be an extremely difficult reality for them (or anyone for that matter), to accept; and with that difficulty can come initial denial, anger and resistance that can unsettle even the most solid and loving family unit.

In recent days I have had the pleasure of spending some time with what I regard to be simply the best Aged Care Manager I have ever met; and while watching her discuss some important matters to consider with those families who are considering her facility for a loved one, I have learned some lessons which I would like to briefly share with you now.

It begins with communication

As I’ve said above, this may be the most emotional decision you will ever make, do not approach it with a business like attitude. As with anything in life decisions are made easier with communication and engagement. If you are considering broaching the subject of moving a loved one into care facility you must begin by engaging with them as a first step. No one I have ever met likes to be dictated to and certainly not with something as life changing as this. Have a frank and open discussion with your family member and most importantly; be ready to accept that you may be wrong. Listen to what they have to say, if other solutions can be found in the short term (this can often help as a transition to full time care), and be open to the possibility that the right time may not be now but later.

Support is paramount

One thing I have learned over the past number of years is that when it comes to family and family decisions, you must be united. If you or a family member is considering an Aged Care facility for a loved one, the whole family must be on the same page. During this journey the new resident will need all the support you can provide, remember, their world will change hugely from what their day-to-day life has been life up to that point. However, one individual cannot carry the burden of that support alone and the family unit must stand as one, and support each other to make the transition as seamless as possible for their elderly family member.

It’s also a financial decision

Before committing to an Aged Care facility do your sums. Often this decision isn’t a short-term commitment and you must be convinced and secure in the knowledge that whatever the financial commitment you will have to make is one you can make without adding any further stress to your life.

'The average cost of aged care accommodation is estimated at about $300,000 to $400,000, payable as a refundable accommodation deposit (replacing the old bond), a daily accommodation payment or a combination of both. About 5 per cent of facilities charge $550,000-plus under ­special government approval. (Australian Financial Review 2014)'

This is a huge financial commitment and one that should not be taken lightly. Another excellent resource if you are attempting to work the numbers is the Residential Care Free Estimator from the government’s ‘My Aged Care’ website.

Develop strong relationships with the facilities’ staff

Those who work in an Aged Care facility really care about the service they provide; they care about the quality of life their residents have; and they care about the emotional rollercoaster the resident’s families can often go through. It is extremely important for you to develop strong relationship with the care staff as they will quickly develop strong and emotional ties to your family member with whose care they have been charged with. They can tell you immediately how your loved one is feeling, the issues they may have experienced, and more importantly the happiest moments they have had since last you have seen them. They are an extremely impressive group of professionals and allowing them into your confidence (and in many cases into your family unit), can offer you an invaluable level of insight, support and joy.

If you are setting out on this journey I hope you have found some of what I have said to be helpful and I wish you and your family the very, very best with your decision.

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