Assyat David is the Director of Aged Care Steps, a company that supports professionals to build and implement an aged care service for clients to help them navigate the financial strategies and options for care. Aged Care Steps achieves this by providing professional advisers across Australia with training, technical support, calculators and tools.
Aged Care Steps came about because we recognised that Australians were more likely to reach an age where growing older will mean they will need access to care support and advice. At this time, Australians will require professional support and guidance to make informed decisions about their home care and other aged care choices.
We aim to help Australians and their families have confidence that they have made an informed decision about their care options, so they may live with dignity.
Professional advice is key in helping Australians choose the correct pathway that suits their specific needs and situation.
Navigating the aged care system
Facing an aged care need is often an emotionally difficult and confusing time. This can lead to family conflicts, which are fuelled by the ‘Three Gs’ of aged care – grief, guilt and greed.
In a survey conducted by Aged Care Steps in conjunction with Swiss Re about the challenges and fears of people concerning care, the results showed that Australians are grappling with:
- the affordability of care
- navigating the aged care process
- making informed decisions
- ensuring they access the right care.
The most important factor when planning for aged care is to start the process and conversations as early as possible – at pre-retirement stage – when saving for retirement.
Understanding home care
Aged care services are many and varied, and home care is an integral service offering. It’s important because it can help you remain independent in your own home for as long as possible. Because everyone’s needs and circumstances are different, a range of home care services are available to you – the challenge is selecting the right provider to meet your needs.
Once you have been assessed and your Home Care Package (HCP) allocated, it is time to evaluate and select a suitable home care provider. For more information on how this process works, read on for our articles on preparing for an ACAT assessment and understanding government funding so you have a plan of action.
What services do you require? Make a list
Each individual’s care needs will differ and some providers may be unable to meet all your requirements. The first step is to document the services you need and then check that each provider can deliver them. Services may include personal care, light housekeeping, shopping, driving to appointments and socialisation.
Compare the providers you have identified
Once you have created a shortlist, you should compare the providers on four key attributes as follows.
- Care staff. Possibly the most important consideration of all relates to the care staff who will be carrying out the care duties within your home. Carers often work alone so it is vital that they are adequately screened, trained and monitored to ensure you receive high-quality care.
- Fees. As your Home Care Package will provide you with a certain funding level to meet your care needs, it is important to understand both the type and level of fees charged by the provider to ensure you maximise your benefits. Ask whether the fees are negotiable and whether you can elect to pay for some services privately.
- Communication. As you will continue to have an ongoing relationship with the home care provider, it is vital that appropriate communication pathways are in place. As your care needs will change over time, it is important that regular reviews are carried out and communicated with you and your family.
- Reputation. The reputation of the home care provider is also worth exploring. Harness the power of social media such as Facebook, and ask your friends and connections for reviews and recommendations of local service providers.
Whatever your needs from a home care service, be sure to do the research, ask plenty of questions and, importantly, be comfortable with the people delivering your service.
To get help with the financial decisions for accessing aged care in your home or in residential care, find an Accredited Aged Care Professional in your area by visiting agedcaresteps.com.au/find-adviser.
Important care conversations
It is important to have a conversation about your care needs as early as possible. Some of the considerations when planning for care include:
- How the person expects to fund their care costs – recognising that legislation has been shifting towards a greater user-pays basis.
- The role of the home in meeting care costs – including the person’s willingness to access the equity in their home or their preference to maintain the equity in their home as an inheritance for their family.
- Ability to rely on family and friends to provide care and financial support.
- The transition to residential care – if they move from home to residential care, the options they may have for funding the accommodation deposit and ongoing costs.
For more information, call the Five Good Friends and Apia Care Advice line on 1300 50 27 42.