What do I do if I suspect mum or dad is not being treated well in an aged care home?

What do I do if I suspect mum or dad is not being treated well in an aged care home?

What do you do if you suspect your loved one is not being treated well in an aged care home? Or if you need to make a complaint? What is the correct process and how do you ensure your voice will be heard?

In her latest blog post, aged care expert and My CarePath CEO Dana Sawyer breaks down what to do if you need to make a complaint about an aged care home, how to make sure your concerns are resolved and how to move your loved one out of a home if necessary.

When you place a loved one into aged care, likely to be either mum or dad, it’s normal to find yourself experiencing a role reversal of sorts. Suddenly you’re thinking and worrying about your parent as they likely worried about you when you were young.

If your mum or dad is currently living in an aged care home, you will have chosen the home you felt was best for them at the time.

However, what do you do if you suspect or worry that your parent isn’t being treated well?

It’s important to remember you’re not powerless and there are many options to help you work through any issues.

Step 1 – Trust Your Instincts

It’s natural to have feelings of guilt or doubt when you place your parent in aged care. However, it’s important to be able to differentiate between natural worrying about your mum or dad, or when there is a real cause for concern.

The key to finding out if there is likely a problem, is to monitor your parents’ behaviour. Has their behaviour and demeanour changed in any way? Do they appear to be happy and content in their new home?

Or have you noticed they have changed significantly, both mentally and physically? Do they seem distressed?

If there is a dramatic shift in behaviour, you should listen to your instinct that something is not right.

Step 2 – Ask to speak with the facility manager

Make a note of any concerns you have about Mum or Dad and ask for a meeting with the facility manager. Speak with him/her about your concerns and what you have noticed.

If you have a log book recording particularly incidences, such as notes on when you noticed a change in your parents’ demeanour, physical evidence of sores or bruises that concern you, then this will help the facility manager to develop an action plan to find out why this problem is occurring.

During this meeting, make sure to ask the facility manager what their complaint process is, as every aged care home may have a different process.

Step 3 – Develop a support network, including a GP and an aged care consultant

While you are working with the facility manager and the aged care home, build a support network around you including your parents’ GP and consider engaging an aged care consultant to advocate for you on your behalf.  

An aged care consultant can help work with the aged care home to deal with the complaint for you, as well as guide you through the process and provide an action plan on how to move your loved one out of the home if needed.

Step 4 – Develop an action plan to move to a different aged care home

It’s important to remember that aged care is voluntary and your loved one cannot be forced to stay in an aged care home that isn’t suitable for them or treats them poorly.  

There is no contract requiring a resident to stay in aged care.  

If you feel your complaint is severe enough that your loved one can no longer stay there and you’re not getting anywhere dealing with the home directly, start researching alternative aged care homes and providers.

Make sure to take into consideration your parents’ specific care needs and any practicalities such as location and current vacancies.

An aged care consultant can do this research for you and provide you with a short list of suitable alternative facilities.

Step 5 – Take your complaint further

If you feel you are not making progress by dealing directly with the aged care facility manager, then you can make a complaint to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission either online or by phoning 1800 951 822.

You do not need to have made a complaint with the facility manager first to contact the commission, and you can also make a complaint anonymously.

Need more help? Phone one of the My CarePath consultants on 1300 755 702 or email support@mycarepath.com.au who can help you navigate the aged care process.

What questions should I ask an aged care home?

What questions should I ask an aged care home?

Last month, we covered how to approach the aged care conversation with an ageing parent. If you are now at the stage where you need to choose an aged care home, you may be overwhelmed by how to choose the best home for your loved one.

In this blog post, aged care expert and My CarePath CEO Dana Sawyer, outlines the key questions to ask an aged care home before arranging an inspection.

Is there a Registered Nurse onsite 24/7?

While there is no legal staff to resident ratio requirement, a widely-accepted minimum standard is that a Registered Nurse should be available onsite 24/7.

When looking at potential aged care homes, this is one of the first questions you should ask, before arranging a tour.

You can also ask if residents are regularly looked after by the same staff members or if the provider uses agency staff.

Long term regular staff that consistently look after the same residents allows both the resident and the care worker to build a caring relationship and for the carer to observe changes in the resident’s condition.

What are the care options?

Aged care homes no longer differentiate between ‘high care’ and ‘low care’ needs for residents, however there are still a number of care options depending on the provider such as residential aged care permanent and respite care, home care and serviced apartments.

Ask the home what care options are available, you may find there is an aged care service available that you hadn’t previously considered and may even be more suitable for you.

What are the main fees and charges?

Before you begin calling aged care homes, it’s a good idea to get your head around the common acronyms for the most common fees and charges in aged care.

We have a blog post that breaks down the most important fees to understand, which can be read here.

You’ll want to understand terms such as Basic Daily Care Fee, RAD, DAP, Additional Service Fees and Care Contribution Fee before reaching out to facilities.

An aged care placement consultant can assist you to negotiate and compare all fees between all options you may be considering.

Once a preferred option has being chosen and before admission it may be beneficial to engage an aged care specialised financial planner. They can assist you to understand how best to structure your financial resources to the best possible outcome for your individual circumstance.

Do you cater for my mum/dad’s special needs?

Take into consideration if your parent has any special needs or lifestyle preferences, such as being from a culturally-diverse background or preferences for gardens. For example, if you’re loved one will struggle to communicate and understand English, ask the home if there are any staff members who speak your parents’ native language.

There are also a number of aged care homes that cater for certain ethnic groups, which prioritise hiring staff that speak specific languages and also have ongoing cultural events and celebrations.

Remember – aged care is voluntary

Aged care is a voluntary process, no one can be forced into aged care against their will. It’s also important to remember there is no lock in contracts forcing your loved one to remain in a facility for the rest of their lives.

Residents are able to have up to 53 days/ nights social leave every year. Also, independent residents can come and go as they please, provided that the nursing staff are aware when they are leaving and for how long of course.

Families are encouraged to take mum or dad out for the day, get them to spend a few nights a week at home if it’s an option and take regular outings.

If at any point you feel the aged care home is not suitable for your family member, you can move them into a different residence if you’re not happy.

Overwhelmed by all the options? Work with an experience aged care consultant

It can be easy to go down the rabbit hole of potential aged care homes, especially when you have an ageing loved one to care for at the same time.

It can help to look at a few options thorough a comprehensive aged care directory such as Aged Care Online, which can help you find homes based on your needs i.e. type of care, suburb etc.

You can also work with an experienced, aged care consultant who can do the hard work for you and present you with a short list of suitable aged care homes for your individual needs.

Consultants can also help you arrange aged care home tours, compare and negotiate RADs and sort through government and aged care provider paperwork.

My CarePath has a national team of aged care consultants, which you can contact on 1300 755 702 or fill in this contact form.