The decision to move either yourself or a loved one into an aged care home is one of the most difficult decisions you can make and is a life changing event for all concerned. For an elderly person and their family it marks the transition to end-of-life. It can be a confusing, frustrating and stressful time, but with some careful planning, it can be a rewarding move.
BLUE CARE Acting Director of Residential Services Maureen Kennedy says because it’s an emotional time for the elderly person and their carer/s, it is best to have all the practical things in place before that time comes.
“In terms of easing elderly patients into aged care, forward planning is critical,” she said.
“There are numerous details to consider, including organising assessment through an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), choosing a facility, the move itself, and planning care within the home – it’s a long process.”
Making the big decision
Elderly people are often reluctant to make the move to residential care because the idea conjures up negative feelings. However, Ms Kennedy says many of them find they have a greater quality of life after they’ve made the move.
“Aged care homes serve to provide the necessary care that is not available in any other setting,” she explains. An individual needs a nursing home when it is too difficult for family members to take care of loved ones who require constant care.
“Our residents commonly experience less anxiety about health issues because there’s always a carer on hand to help, and they generally have a more active social life with people their own age, just to name a couple of benefits.”
Aged care assessments
Importantly, before a decision can be made about moving into an aged care facility, an Aged Care Assessment Team needs to assess an elderly person’s eligibility for Australian Government subsidised care in an aged care home (low level or high level care).
The best place to start is by calling the Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centre (freecall 1800 052 222).
They can provide free and confidential information about residential aged care, community aged care, disability and other support services and give you personalised attention.
They also have information about finding a home, the application process, accepting a place, and advice on moving in.
Meeting individual care needs
Aged care facilities offer different levels of care based on a person’s care needs. And while the ACAT assesses and determines the level of care required, it’s useful for people to understand the difference between low care, high care and dementia specific accommodation.
“Low care facilities or hostels enable residents to live a productive lifestyle with care and assistance close at hand,” Ms Kennedy comments.
“They offer security, companionship with people of a similar age, and a range of activities, concerts and excursions.
“High care facilities or nursing homes are for those who require a higher level of care. They suit those who need help with caring for themselves, such as showering, dressing, and medication.
“Dementia specific units, or secure high care units, are generally for elderly people with late-onset dementia or a cognitive disease who have a habit of wandering.
They offer the resident greater protection and safety.”
Finding the right place
Finding the right aged care home is an important task.
“There isn’t always a bed available at your first choice, so you should choose a few that meet your needs,” Ms Kennedy suggests.
“The most important factor when choosing a home is the quality of care and the interactions between staff and residents. But you should also consider a facility’s location, the services provided and the premises.
“Once a place has been accepted it’s wise to make a list of the person’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual care needs so they get off to a smooth start,” Ms Kennedy explained.
“Of course, the best way of making a loved one feel at ease in their new home is regular visits by family and friends.
“This is the most important factor for quality of care and quality of life of a resident.”
Tips for finding a nursing home
1. Ask for recommendations
2. Get references
3. Check accreditation reports
4. Talk to the administrator or nursing staff
5. Tour the facility