Don’t rule out aged care – it could be the best option, expert says

Don’t rule out aged care – it could be the best option, expert says

There is a common belief in our society that the elderly prefer to remain in their own home rather than live in aged care. While this is an understandable presumption, and choosing to stay within your own home as you age is a genuine and legitimate choice, it’s not always the best option when our health declines and everyday activities become almost impossible. The reality is even with a Level 2 Home Care Package (HCP), which includes about 4-5 hours per week of care, many people are spending day after day at home alone. For adult children helping Mum or Dad navigate aged care, it’s important to make sure you’re not assuming your parents will be better off or happier at home. In my experience, it’s essential we show people all of their options before they make a decision. Either way at least they know what they’re saying yes or no too.

Paranoia 

I help hundreds of families navigate the aged care system every year and one thing I frequently come across is elderly people who are scared to leave their own house as they’re unsteady on their feet, or they’re terrified when someone knocks on the door. When people experience cognitive decline, some can also experience incidences of paranoia. This is particularly the case if they feel isolated. If the neighbour no longer pops around and friends have passed away or no longer visit, it can become very lonely and in turn home can become a scary place to be.

Loneliness 

When we talk about home, we often forget to talk about social networks. Home is much more than bricks and mortar. Home is also about our community, friends, work and hobbies. In fact, loneliness is one of the biggest causes of health decline for the elderly. If Dad has been on his own for a few years since Mum passed or the neighbour that always used to check in on him has passed away, then maybe a community-style living arrangement will be a positive move. Independent retirement villages or aged care homes will ensure more social interaction and a sense of security knowing people are close by.
Communal living is important for our wellbeing and when the elderly are interacting with their peers, aged care staff and visitors, it can provide a great boost to their overall health.

Quality of life

If you’re concerned about whether your parents should continue to stay at home, have a look around at the quality of the home to get an indication of how they’re coping. Is the bed made? Is there food in the pantry? Is the food in date and being eaten? I frequently meet elderly people who are eating nothing but toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is unlikely to meet their nutritional needs. By contrast, an aged care home would provide three hot, nutritious meals daily, which are designed by a dietitian who understands your parents’ nutritional needs and are most often cooked onsite by a chef. I know if I was in that situation which option I would choose for myself.

When to make a change

There are of course elderly people who are genuinely happier at home. In my experience, these tend to be people who do not require 24/7 nursing care to ensure their physical and cognitive health and have access to weekly help such as a home care service. They’re also likely to have a strong connection to their community, have neighbours they chat to daily or are active in a church group or gardening club. If you feel your parents are unlikely to tick these boxes, then they may in fact be happier in an aged care home. However, this is still never an easy conversation to have. If you directly ask ‘do you want to move into an aged care home?’ it’s natural to have an immediate negative reaction. When it’s phrased like that, the answer is going to be no. Despite the benefits of aged care, it’s still a big change to consider and people are often resistant to change. Instead, focus on finding out what your parent wants and needs and then find suitable options they might consider. You could ask questions such as:
  • How are you going at home Mum?
  • Are you coping with the gardening and cleaning Dad?
  • How are you coping following the loss of your partner?
  • Do you have a lot of visitors? Does the neighbour still drop by regularly?
Maybe also suggest going to have a look at some accommodation options so you can talk about them down the track. Whatever your situation, remember to take the time to find out what the options are and if they will work for your loved one. Everyone is different. Your parents’ aged care needs should be about what works for their situation and not what we assume they want or need. This article was originally published on Startsat60.com

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