Perhaps you, or a loved one, is finding life is getting a bit harder and you may be looking for some extra help to assist with daily living activities either within the home, or within an aged care home.
In Australia there are many different options for aged care services, and there is support available from the government, non-profit organisations and for-profit companies to assist.
This short guide & our annual aged care survey will help you start the process, understand the options available to you or your family members, and provide some questions to think about as you make a decision about the next step.
Growing Need for Aged Care Services
Australia is one of the countries with the highest life expectancies in the world. This means the aged population also grows steadily every year. Based on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2017, there were around 3.8 million people who were aged 65 and over. This amounted to over 15% of the population.
The number is projected to grow by up to 22% by 2056. This will result in the number of people requiring aged care to also increase.
Aged Care Options in Australia
In Australia, many aged care services are subsidised by the government. This helps to make care services more affordable for the client. Unfortunately, publicly run aged care services can no longer meet the increasing demand. This has resulted in more private businesses entering the market.
There are three main aged care options in Australia: in-home aged care, aged care (nursing) home, and retirement villages.
In-home Aged Care
In-home aged care is the best option for people who want to stay in their own homes when they get older. They can access several services such as personal care, domestic assistance, meal preparation, mobility support, transportation, healthcare, and other clinical services.
Clients who choose to stay in their own home can access these services, and the support they need while remaining independent.
Often support is available to help people modify and adapt their homes to be more suitable for later stages of life. Specialist mobility aids such as shower commode chairs, bedside commodes & fall alarms can make in-home living more comfortable and convenient.
Reducing the risk of falls is an important consideration when thinking about in-home aged care options. Consider ways to remove trip hazards, improve interior lighting, install grab rails and add non-slip floor coverings to your home.
Aged Care Homes
As people grow older, they may be unable to take care of everything all by themselves. At some point, they are going to need assistance to perform their day to day activities. This is the point many people consider moving into nursing homes.
Aged care homes provide accommodation and personal care assistance, such as personal hygiene and dressing. They also offer extra services, such as therapies based on the client's needs.
It is also possible to stay in a Respite Care Home for short periods. This allows carers to have a break while providing the client with high-quality care and a change of scenery.
Retirement villages provide an excellent option for people who need less support and are still capable of living semi-independent. These communities offer the required level of support while letting people live their life independently.
Younger people with disabilities may also decide to live in these communities and are also offered the support and services they need.
Things to Consider Before Choosing an Aged Care Service
There are many factors to consider before choosing an aged care service. Considering these factors will help you receive the most suitable service for you or your loved ones.
One of the most important things to consider is the cost. Even aged care services that are subsidised by the government may still cost you a significant amount of money. You should calculate the cost of various options and consider when making your final decision.
You should also ask if they provide extra services and how much you must pay for them. If they do not offer additional services, you will need to get them from a third-party provider. This may cost you even more.
Staff Management and Training
A decent aged care service must have enough staff for all the clients. Therefore, you should ask the management about staff numbers and what percentage of the team are fully qualified.
This is very important, especially if you need to stay in a nursing home. You should make sure that you or your loved ones will receive the best care and attention possible.
Cleanliness, Meals, Access, and Culture
Aged people are more prone to diseases. Therefore, cleanliness is crucial. Some nursing homes apply hygiene standards similar to hospitals to make sure all the residents live in a clean environment.
You should also find out how they prepare meals. Do they provide the same meal to all residents, or do they prepare individual meals based on the client's preferred diet? This is a critical consideration, especially if you or your loved ones have special requirements.
You should also understand what transportation and access is like from the facility, such as the distance to the nearest hospital and other public places. Also, ask how many times family members can visit and how much open space is available.
Finally, try to observe and understand the overall culture of the place. Do they have a friendly environment, or is it more clinical? How do the staff interact with the residents and each other? This is important to consider before making any final decisions.