Choosing aged care accommodation

The thought of aged care for your loved ones can be daunting - here’s some tips to ease the strain.

The media focuses on the struggles and challenges of our younger generations to move out of home. With property prices and the cost of living on the rise, taking that next step is becoming an unforeseeable goal for many.

But what about another generation of Australians facing the same challenges? We’re talking about an older generation who, for a variety of reasons, find themselves requiring aged care accommodation.

When considering the shift into aged care accommodation, discussions around finances dominate conversation. Understanding the costs involved and assessing the financial position of those requiring accommodation is a complex, sensitive topic – no matter how simple people may think it is.

Working out your financial situation

Eric Hiam, an aged care financial specialist and the founder and principal of Balance Financial Solutions, says that financial decisions made at this early point make a big difference in ensuring the best financial outcome.

There are times when the need to move into aged care accommodation happens overnight, in the case of an acute medical occurrence like a stroke or a significant fall. Within days, individuals who were able to live independently now require full time care and alternative accommodation.

Families may feel pressure from hospitals for patients to be discharged into their new care environment – pressure that can cause a high amount of stress and potentially result in poor financial decisions. During this time in hospital, Eric recommends high levels of communication to keep the hospital updated with your progress towards finding a suitable placement.

“The hospital will feel much more comfortable and patients and their families will feel less pressure, as both sides are aware of what is happening,” Eric says.

“If individuals and their families can receive expert advice from people like Eric and Mary, the outcomes – from a personal, health and financial position – will be enhanced.”

Choosing where to live

Once the financial situation is ascertained and handled, the question of where to live arises. Much like younger generations, those moving into aged care are seeking accommodation that reflects their needs and interests.

Mary Baumann from Aged Care Placement Services says finding the right accommodation can be a real challenge, particularly when time is short and places are limited.

“There is a large range in accommodation and it is a very personal choice – the biggest or prettiest are not always the best,” Mary says.

“Many people are looking for familiarity in the type and style of accommodation, and the other people who also reside in the home – the new neighbours.”

Other things to consider

The policy around aged care has recently changed, and Eric and Mary both stress the importance of talking to experts in the field. While information is available online via myagedcare.gov.au, each situation is different and getting the best advice possible is important.

It is also a difficult transition to plan for, as places in preferred aged care accommodation may not be available, finances may change and the legislation might be updated. Quite often advice, information and choices need to be made relatively quickly.

But Eric and Mary suggest these challenges can be moderated with the knowledge that some of the decisions made are not forever. If people are not happy in the accommodation they initially choose, they can move without too many hassles.

Navigating the transition into aged care accommodation can certainly be challenging. If individuals and their families can receive expert advice from people like Eric and Mary where possible, the outcomes – from a personal, health and financial position – will be enhanced.

As Mary says, “Ultimately my role is helping people through the maze.”

For financial advice and placement support, visit bfs.net.au and agedcareplacementservices.com.au

When it comes to arranging aged care placement for your loved ones, there are experts who can help. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

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