3 Tips for finding Residential Aged Care

As aged care consultants we help older people and their families navigate the aged care service system. At times this is to help people stay in their own homes and at other times it may mean helping a person move into Residential Aged Care.

The decision to move into aged care is often made following a crisis, such as a fall at home or a hospital admission. This gives the older person and the family little time to plan, often leaving them feeling pressured into a decision. This article focuses on people looking for care when timeframes are tight.

These 3 tips below will help start your search for aged care and reduce the time it takes to find a suitable home.

  1. What is the timeline? When does the move into residential care need to happen?

If the older person is in hospital then your family member will often see a social worker or discharge planner who will communicate the hospital’s timelines for moving. To be eligible for Commonwealth funded aged care, a person must have an Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) complete the approval. The hospital will arrange this.

Once this assessment is completed the hospital will advise how long the older person can stay in hospital and let you know what  they need from you. Most public hospitals will require you to have the older person waitlisted at 4-6 homes within a certain timeframe. Private hospitals generally have tighter timelines for this and a person may be asked to pay a daily fee to remain in hospital after a certain amount of time.

  1. What can I afford?

Knowing what the older person can afford is the next important step. Commonwealth funded Residential Aged Care has a mixture of fees, which include

  • Basic Daily fees that everyone pay,
  • Income tested fees and
  • a Residential Accommodation Deposit (RAD).
  • Extra Service fees (charged by some homes)

It is important to seek professional advice about what you and your family can afford. Care3 can refer you to Financial Planners experienced in understanding the fees associated with Aged Care.

If a person has very limited assets and is only receiving an aged pension they are likely to be considered a ‘supported resident’. This means they will not be required to pay the ingoing RAD.

  1. Determine the wish list

Once the older person has been assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) and has an understanding of what they can afford, it is time to work out the wish list.

When we work with clients to find suitable accommodation it is important to note the criteria will likely change as we move through the process. When a person is in hospital and the timelines are tight, it may not be possible for them to move to the Aged Care home at the end of the street that they have heard good things about.

Some things to consider when putting together the wish list:

  • Geographic area – which suburbs/locations. Think about who will visit the most, is it easy for them to visit, who does the person want to be near to? Do they need to be close to hospitals/specialists?
  • Does the person want to keep seeing their GP? Do they visit any particular places?
  • What sort of care does the person need? Are there any special clinical needs?
  • What sort of room does the person want? Single with ensuite? Do they want extra space? A view?
  • Do they want to be in a facility that is not for profit? Is this important?
  • What sort of security does the person need?
  • Does the facility have dementia specific area? Does the person need this now? In the future?
  • Do they have vacancies?

In my experience geography is the most common criteria we work with and then next is the level of care and the reputation of facilities.

Once you have this wish list you are ready to start the search. Hospitals and ACAS teams will provide lists of facilities usually grouped into local government areas. They will not recommend facilities. The best way to progress the search is by calling facilities that meet the criteria and working out if they are worth visiting. If a facility has no vacancies and a long waiting list it is better to put this further down your priority list and focus on places that have rooms available.

Next Week’s article-

What to look for on a Tour

If you would like more support in looking for Aged Care for an older person in your life please contact us at Care3 info@care3.com.au