Is aged care the end?

Should you, your parents or your loved ones no longer seem able to manage the everyday tasks associated with living at home independently, it may be wise to check if you need to have an aged care assessment. Following such an assessment by a local Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), recommendations will be made about the level of care required and the services available to meet your needs.

These services can be offered at home, in a facility which has assistance on hand but allows you to live independently or, if you need round the clock assistance, care can be offered in a residential facility. As a guide, each of the options are detailed below:

At-home services
A range of community care programs is available to help you remain at home. Such programs might include healthcare services, home modifications, help around the home, meal services, respite care and assistive technologies such as 24/7 personal alarms.

Assisted living
If you require less care than that offered by an aged care facility you may wish to consider a retirement village or assisted living unit.

Residential care services
A residential aged care facility provides full care at either low-level care (previously called a hostel) or high-level care (previously called a nursing home). Many facilities offer both these levels of care, which may mean you can stay in the same facility, and transition from low to high care should your health decline. There are also opportunities for short-term respite stays.

The need to make the decision to have yourself or a loved one assessed for aged care is usually quite clear cut, but broaching the subject can be difficult. A discussion with your GP is a good place to start, no one knows your medical background better and they can discuss with you the services on offer and the process involved.

An assessment will be carried out by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) and this can be arrange via your GP, or you can make the call yourself and arrange an appointment. If you think it is time to arrange a visit, simply pick up the phone and call Commonwealth Carelink on 1800 052 222.

Understanding the process and what is involved can help to relieve the stress which can be experienced by those involved. The ACAT assessment is free of charge and once arranged via your GP or direct with your local ACAT and the assessment should take no longer than two to three hours. During this time one or two members of the ACAT will visit your home and have a chat about your needs, the areas you may be having difficulty and any other concerns you may have

They’ll also advise you of the services available and how you can access these, whether at home or in a care facility. If you’re anxious about entering a care facility, you can discuss this and any concerns you have will be noted and considered when making a recommendation for an appropriate level of care.

Once you receive an approval for low care, you will need to be reassessed if your care needs change or if you take longer than 12 months to move into residential care. However, if you receive ACAT approval for high care you will not need to be reassessed.

Written by Debbie McTaggart