People who need less care than that offered by a residential aged care service may wish to consider a retirement village or assisted living unit. These residential communities offer a range of services for independent older people, and are regulated by state and territory legislation. However, fees are largely not regulated so they are more commercial decisions.
What is an assisted living unit
Retirement villages offer the opportunity to live in a community, specifically designed to meet the needs of retirees. Within these communities, some units may be described as 'assisted living units' or 'serviced apartments'. These units provide higher levels of care than 'independent living units' or 'self-care units'.
With assisted living, a range of personal services may be available upon request on a user-pays basis. These services will be specified in the contract and may include:
meals provided each day in a common dining area or delivered to your room
assistance with daily living activities such as dressing or going to the bathroom
round-the-clock security and support with emergency call systems
social and recreational activities.
These units are governed under the state legislation that applies to retirement villages and the costs are not subsidised by the Government. However, you may still be able to access some at-home care services, which are subsidised, while you live in an assisted living unit. The style of accommodation can vary from a room in a building to your own apartment or unit.
Will an assisted living unit suit me?
An assisted living facility may be a good choice if you need more personal care services than you can get at home or in an independent living retirement village, but you don’t need the round-the-clock medical care and supervision of an aged care facility. Assisted living facilities offer the safety and security of 24-hour support and access to care and often provide the opportunity for more social interaction and support. But you still have your own privacy and independence. If you’re trying to decide whether assisted living is right for you, here is a quick checklist of things to consider:
Do you need more help than family and friends can provide?
Are you lonely or feeling isolated at home?
Are you worried about your safety and your ability to get help quickly if you fall or have a health emergency?
Do you find it difficult to maintain your home, including cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry?
Is transportation difficult for you?
You should also read the page on Retirement Villages for more information on the legal issues associated with assisted retirement living units.
This article is prepared by the strategy specialists at Aged Care Steps, a company supporting financial advisors who give advice on aged care. To find a professional adviser who specialises in aged care advice go to www.agedcaresteps.com.au and click on the Find an Adviser link.
Disclaimer: This is general advice and does not take into account your particular circumstances or objectives. Before taking any action you should seek personal financial planning, taxation or legal advice and refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before investing in any product. Aged Care Steps is an authorised representative of Strategy Steps Pty Ltd ABN 14130045242, AFSL 333649.