How to start the conversation about aged care with mum or dad

How to start the conversation about aged care with mum or dad

For those with ageing parents, it is common for the child to experience role reversal. Soon it is the daughter or son who is checking in on mum or dad, concerned for their welfare and starting difficult conversations about their parents’ care needs.

If you have an ageing parent, you will likely need to start the conversation about the aged care process at some point. Ageing is a natural part of life and it is best to start the conversation sooner, rather than later.

Aged care expert and My Care Path CEO Dana Sawyer, explains how to introduce the aged care conversation, ensure your loved one’s wishes are respected and when to turn to an expert for advice.

To begin the conversation, do NOT ask ‘Do you want to go into aged care?’ – the answer is likely going to be no.

It’s natural for people to have reservations about the ageing process and aged care system, particularly if they don’t understand it and haven’t experienced it before.

The truth is, no one wants to go into aged care – at least initially, and it’s important that we remember aged care is a voluntary system that no one can be forced into.

However, if you have concerns about the wellbeing of your ageing parent and know aged care may be needed now or in the near future, here are some better questions to ask:

  • How are you going at home Mum?
  • Are you coping with the gardening and cleaning Dad?
  • Are you feeling lonely since Mum passed away?
  • Do you have a lot of visitors? Or have a neighbour who pops in regularly?
  • Would you like some help with the housework?
  • What do you think of the idea of being a part of more of a tight-knit community?

These questions will help to naturally elicit how your parent is really coping at home and also may make them more receptive to the aged care help that is out there.

Find out what your options are sooner, rather than later

If you’re seeing signs your mum or dad may need aged care soon, find out what your options are before you need them.

The best way to find out your options, is to speak with an independent aged care consultant who can give you tailored, independent advice.

There will be a plethora of options depending on your parent’s physical health, cognitive health, social networks, finances, ethnic and cultural background and more.

You can also discuss with a consultant what happens in an emergency situation. Mum may be living independently now, but if she has a fall and is admitted into hospital – you may need to make a decision about aged care within a few days.

An aged care consultant can provide options for immediate care as well as potential future care.

Once you have all of the information, you may find it easier to begin that conversation with your parent.

Get in touch with a My Care Path aged care consultant here.

Remember – the ageing process is natural and you don’t need to feel guilty about that

Most of us will hopefully live to an old age, which means the majority of us will need aged care at some point in our lives. For the loved ones around an elderly person, it’s common to experience feelings of guilt about ‘placing mum or dad into aged care.’

The strange thing is we often talk about the health benefits of communal living, so why does that not apply to our elderly? Loneliness is one of the most chronic health issues the elderly face, with the Federal Government committing $10 million to combat the issue in the lead up to the election.

We must remember that aged care doesn’t need to be scary if we can demystify it and understand we all have a real choice in aged care.

Further Resources

Advanced Care Planning Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that provides resources about planning for future care needs.

The website has a section dedicated to family, friends and carers with useful information.

Aged Care Online is Australia’s most comprehensive online directory for aged care providers, including home care, residential, respite, retirement living and more. The directory makes it easy for you to get an understanding of the aged care services in your area.

My Care Path aged care consultants. We are an independent, aged care advisory service with more than 10 years’ experience in the industry. Our consultants are available nationwide.

What does the Federal Election mean for aged care?

Can families expect more investment into services that will help care for our elderly as they age?

Aged care expert and My Care Path consultant Dana Sawyer breaks down what the Coalition win will mean for people entering aged care.

The Federal Election delivered a surprising win for the Coalition, with the party comfortable forming a majority government.

While the government didn’t make sweeping reforms and big promises for the aged care sector in the lead up to the election, likely due to the ongoing Aged Care Royal Commission, there were a number of pre-election commitments made by the LNP.

The government is promising more measures to address senior loneliness, best practice research into aged care, help for seniors from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and additional aged care workers.

$10m to combat Senior Loneliness  

I often come across clients who feel very guilty about placing their mum or dad into aged care. While this is completely understandable, we sometimes forget that residential aged care can help combat senior loneliness.

If an elderly person is unable to get out and about easily, doesn’t have a strong neighbour network or has family living interstate – the health effects of loneliness can be profound.

The good news is that the government has committed an additional $10 million to expand the Community Visitors Scheme for aged care and home care residents.

The Community Visitors Scheme is a program where volunteers build a friendship with an elderly person, either in their own home or in an aged care facility.

$10m to help Seniors from Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

Australia’s multi-cultural landscape means many families speak a language other than English at home.

When an elderly person speaks English as a second language, or has limited English skills, they are less likely to access the aged care services they need due to language barriers.

The Coalition has committed to an additional $7.4 million for the Aged Care Systems Navigator program, which will include Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)- specific program that will include:

  • A dedicated community and online information hub
  • Specially trained advisors offering one-on-one support to seniors and their families

More Aged Care Workers

The government has made it a priority for there to be 475,000 aged care workers in Australia by 2025.

The aged care sector is being given first priority in a program under the government’s Skills Service Organisations package to support future job growth.

The government will also commit $34 million to establish a research centre that examines new ways to deliver care for seniors, as well as best practice methods for training and educating aged care providers.

Overall, it’s promising to see more funding dedicated to help our culturally-diverse community as well as a commitment to combat the very serious problem of loneliness.

The aged care industry will continue to grow, so investing in more jobs for the sector and best-practice training and education should be a top priority.

The final result of the Aged Care Royal Commission will likely lead to more reforms in the aged care sector, which will hopefully lead to even better incomes for our elderly and their families.

What services can help me place mum or dad into aged care?

When you’re considering placing a loved one into aged care, it can be an overwhelming and emotional experience.

Unfortunately, many Australians don’t think about aged care until they have to – and may not realise they do not have to go through the process on their own.

In today’s blog post, My Care Path aged care expert Dana Sawyer breaks down the help that is currently available for families looking to place a loved one in aged care.

When should I start thinking about aged care?

For many families, there are warning signs your elderly parent or loved one will need an aged care service years before they enter an aged care facility.

They may have suffered a fall which has limited their mobility, are struggling with daily household tasks such as gardening or cooking or may be showing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

It is best to start planning for aged care as soon as you notice these warning signs to find out what your options are.

You may have a perception that there aren’t many options, but the Australian aged care system offers extensive aged care choices for different individual circumstances, is heavily subsidised by the government and is designed for the elderly to stay in their own home for as long as possible.

Why is it so important to be proactive in aged care?

If you wait until an emergency, entering the aged care system is much more likely to be a stressful experience.  

In fact, you may find your loved ones are forced to enter an aged care facility fulltime when they would have been able to remain in their homes for longer, if they had accessed aged care services ahead of time.

If you find help when the early warning signs start, you will be much better prepared for the journey to come.

Independent Aged Care Consultants – Helping you navigate your aged care choices

Placing a loved one in aged care is often an emotionally exhausting and stressful process, particularly if you are not familiar with how the aged care system operates.

This is why a number of aged care consultants are available throughout the country, who can offer independent advice on the best aged care service for your individual needs.

What can an aged care consultant help me with?

An aged care consultant can provide the following services:

  • An initial assessment of your aged care needs
  • Recommendations on the type of care that is suitable for you, such as home care or an aged care facility
  • Provide a short list of recommended facilities and home care providers within your area
  • Organise and manage tours of the short-listed facilities
  • Explain the different costs and fees, as well as negotiate fees with an aged care provider on your behalf
  • Advocate for your care and help to change/move facilities if you are not satisfied with the aged care service provided

How much does an aged care consultant cost?

The cost of an aged are consultant can range from anywhere between $2000-$3000, however this cost can be reduced to $550* by engaging a My Care Path consultant.

My Care Path is a national aged care consultancy service, which has partnered with the largest aged care providers in Australia to reduce the rate of accessing an aged care consultant 80% below market rates.

We strongly believe that everyone should be able to afford the help an aged care consultant can provide, to make the transition into aged care as smooth as possible.

How can I contact an aged care consultant?

Simply head to our contact page, where you will find the best phone number and email to get in touch with a My Care Path consultant.

Where else can I research my aged care options?

You can use an online aged care directory, such as Aged Care Online to search for aged care care providers and facilities in your area.

Aged Care Online allows you to search for facilities in your area as well the specific care you need, whether it be home care, residential care or retirement living.

*Terms and Conditions apply.

How much does aged care really cost?

Is aged care as expensive as people believe? We’ve all heard the horror stories of exorbitant Accommodation Deposits, high daily fees and hidden charges, but is that how the aged care system really works in Australia?

If you have family members who may be looking to move into aged care in the near future, it’s important to understand all of the potential costs and fees of placing someone into care.

How much does the Australian Government contribute towards the cost of aged care?

The Australian Government heavily subsidises the cost of most aged care services, with some costs capped to ensure the elderly can access the care they need.

However, how much you will pay for aged care depends on your pension status, current income and assets. In general, those who are receiving a full pension with minimal assets will pay 85% of their aged pension towards their residential aged care, whereas if you have a higher income and additional assets you should expect to contribute more for care and accommodation.

Keep in mind the family home may be excluded from the Asset & Income Assessment if a spouse or protected person remains living in the home..

Home Care Costs

If you have a family member who needs additional help, but is still able to live within their own home independently, then home care may be the best option.

Home care offers nursing and personal care services direct to an elderly persons home.

A home care package may include help with cleaning, basic cooking, gardening, companionship and personal or nursing care.

The government will fund the costs of your home care package. The family home will be excluded from any income means testing to determine your home care fees.

The costs of home care are reviewed in March and September every year, when the Age Pension is reviewed/changed.

As of March 2019, the basic fee for a Home Care Package is $147.56 per fortnight, per person ($10.54 per day)

Even if you earn income above the Age Pension, there is a capped limit to what can be charged as an Income Tested Fee.

Aged Care Costs

If a loved one or family member is no longer able to live within their own home and needs continuous nursing care, it is important to be across the residential aged care fees and charges.

In Australia, there are four key fees in the aged care system:

  • Basic Daily Fee
  • Means-Tested Care Fee
  • Additional Services/Extra Service Fee
  • Refundable accommodation deposit or Daily Accommodation Payment or a combination of both.

Basic Daily Care Fee

A basic daily care fee helps to cover the costs of day-to-day living including meals, cleaning, laundry, heating and cooling. The maximum basic daily fee for new residents entering aged care (including respite) is $51.21. This rate increases on March 20th and September 20th every year to coincide with changes to the Age Pension. The maximum daily care fee rate is 85% of the single person Centrelink Age Pension.

Means-Tested Care Fee

The Means-Tested Care Fee is an additional contribution towards the cost of aged care that you may need to pay.

There are caps that will apply to your means-tested care fee – both yearly and lifetime.

Once you have reached these caps, you are not required to pay anymore means-tested care fees.

If you have been receiving Home Care services and paying income tested care fees prior to moving into residential aged care, this will contribute to your yearly and lifetime caps.

Additional Service Fee/Extra Service Fee

Some aged care providers will provide additional or extra services that are not covered in the Basic Daily Fee or Accommodation payment. Additional/extra services may include hairdressing, Foxtel, daily newspaper delivery, more meal choices and other concierge style services.

Refundable Accommodation Deposit

The Refundable Accommodation Deposit is designed to cover the cost of your accommodation in an aged care facility. The costs can initially appear high, however, it is very important to remember this payment is refundable when the resident leaves care.

There are four options when paying the Accommodation component of fees.

1. It can be paid as a lump sum, known as a ‘Refundable Accommodation Deposit’ (RAD) If you choose to pay for your accommodation as a refundable accommodation payment (RAD) this money will be paid back to you (or your estate) if you leave or pass away. The aged care service provider holds the RAD in trust for you, which is fully refundable. There is no risk with getting your RAD back, as repayment is guaranteed by the government – provided you have paid the RAD to an accredited service provider.

2. It can be paid as a DAP (daily accommodation payment). When you choose to pay a ‘Daily Accommodation Payment,’ you are paying interest on the unpaid RAD. This interest rate is set by the government and is known as the Maximum Permissible Interest Rate (MPIR), currently 5.96%. This rate is reviewed periodically during the year however the rate that is applicable on the date of entry to an aged care facility is frozen for the duration of your stay at that facility.

If you pay the full RAD you do not pay the DAP.

3. You can also choose to pay a combination of RAD and DAP. The combination amount is your choice. For instance if a RAD is $400,000 you could choose to give the facility a lump sum of $200,000 and pay interest (DAP) on the other $200,000 unpaid RAD.

4. You may choose to pay part of the lump sum and ask the facility to deduct the interest that must be paid on the outstanding RAD from that lump sum.

Getting further help – finding an aged care consultant

Placing a loved one in aged care can be an overwhelming and emotional process. It is important to remember you do not have to go through it on your own. There are many aged care placement consultants in Australia, who can guide you through the aged care process and make the transition as smooth as possible.

A consultant should work independently with you to explain the best options available for your unique situation, work through the paperwork and negotiate the costs.

Typically this service can cost anywhere between $2000-$3000 per person. However My Care Path offers an end-to-end case management service, with a fixed $550 fee to access a full consultation service, which is approximately 80 per cent below market rates.

My Care Path works by partnering with the largest aged care providers in Australia, which pay 80 per cent of the cost for the consultant, making the process much more affordable for the average family.

Further Resources

You can use an aged care online directory such as Aged Care Online, to check accommodation payments for several aged care service providers.

 

Aged Care Consumer Support Coming From an Unlikely Source

The ongoing issues consumers face when researching aged care are widely known, with the process know as costly, complex, time consuming and emotionally draining.

Much like any other high cost, potentially complex decision, like buying or selling a house or a large investment, most of us now utilise professional support in the form of an advisor or advocate. It makes sense that the same principal should be applied to aged care.

 In an interesting development there has been a significant shift in the aged care market place, with the introduction of private aged care advisory and advocate services. These advisory services include national services such as My Care Path, Care About (backed by iSelect) and the Victorian-based Care Guidance, which are three such organisations recently launched in the Australian market.

In a significant win for consumers, the majority of the costs of these support services are being covered by the aged care providers themselves.

 Traditionally consumers have had to fund any professional support required to assist them in accessing aged care. My Care Path CEO Ben Hannemann said the rapid change in the marketplace meant aged care providers were seeing the benefits of partnering with aged care advisors and advocates.

“We have seen a rapid change in the marketplace, with aged care providers seeing the benefits in partnering with experienced private aged care advisors. Their support has seen the cost of our advisory service cost drop by around 80%, which is a great result for consumers,” he said.

Many of Australia’s largest aged care providers are supporters of this new model with groups such as Bupa Aged Care, Arcare, Japara, TLC Aged care, Prestige Inhome Care, Five Good Friends, Hall and Prior and Craigcare all partnering with My Care Path in this offering to consumers.

“By aged care providers supporting our business model we are very encouraged about the service levels we are able to deliver to consumers at a hugely reduced cost. If the outcome is a win for both aged care providers and most importantly consumers, I have every confidence more and more consumers will utilise our offering,” Mr Hannemann stated.

 Aged care providers are seeing the benefit of partnering with these private advocacy services because the services assist with occupancy rates and also improve admission efficiencies. Advocates pre-qualifying potential clients ensuring they are a fit in terms of care needs and financial suitability.

Prestige Inhome Care CEO Nick McDonald said “My Care Path educates and prequalifies consumers on the aged care services we provide, so we can focus our admission process time with clients we know we are able to help.”

Families interested in advisory services such as My Care Path service or would like more information can visit:

www.mycarepath.com.au or phone 1300 755 702.

-ENDS-

For media enquiries, please contact:

Samantha Lenkic

Media Manager

M: 0401 225 443

E: samantha@agedcareonline.com.au

Editor’s Notes:

My Care Path is a joint partnership between online aged care directory Aged Care Online and aged care consultants Millennium Aged Care Consultants.

www.agedcareonline.com.au

www.millenniumagedcare.com.au

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