Aged Care Service Not Age Friendly

elderly lady at home

Extraordinarily, Australia’s aged home care sector has come under some strong criticism for not being age friendly according to a report from the University of South Australia . Older Australians have been left feeling disempowered and lacking in confidence due to its complexities. Research explored the ability of people aged 65 plus to select and financially manage their home care packages;

“Home-care packages support people to stay in their own homes for longer, so they are a really appealing option for people as they age or become less independent,” said lead researcher, Braam Lowies “But our research found that older people felt insecure about their capacity to manage home-care packages to their best advantage and we wanted to understand why.”

What they found was that, although the government had recently increased total aged care spending to $662 million, including the release of 10,000 additional home-care packages, the environment in which the packages are provided was so complicated that many older Australians were unsure of which options best suit their personal situation.

Clients of mine are currently dealing with this very situation. A 96 year old couple are in need of support, having stayed independent until this year. The husband had a bad fall and is now in a rehabilitation unit and will probably need my help as a placement consultant to find accommodation in an aged care facility. However, his wife is keen to stay at home with support. She has found she needs help from her family to even begin the first step of applying for assistance. Without their support she would not be able to access the service on her own.

“We found a host of problems from a general lack of confidence and lack of knowledge of the system among older people, to overly complicated communications, high staff turnover and inadequately trained staff providing in home care, inconsistencies in package administration, confusing fee structures and even inaccurate billing processes” Dr Lowies said “Unfortunately, the more complicated and inaccessible the programs are, the more it creates a lack of confidence and motivation for older people accessing services.”

The banking and finance industry was also examined in the Financial Capability of Older People report and it came in for criticism too for not being age friendly.


Aged Care Future Planning Paid Off

Caroline and Billy

Last week I wrote a blog about future planning for aged care. For Billy and Caroline it paid off. With my help they planned for the day they would move to an aged care facility. Caroline and Billy received an offer from their chosen facility last week, and have gladly accepted it.

Initially they were hesitant to consider moving from their home, despite encouragement to plan for this from both their family and doctor. When I was referred to them in April/May last year they decided to explore the possibilities with my help. Caroline had concerns for the short term that she may need to go to hospital and her husband Billy cannot be left on his own. In the long term they wanted to be together and share a suite. I recommended they get their financials in order so they would be prepared, and referred them to a Financial Planner.  We decided to begin searching in their local area for suitable accommodation.

They continued to manage reasonably well at home with services and assistance from their family until late last year when Caroline needed hospitalisation for a few days. Interim care was arranged for Billy at home but when Caroline had complications and had to stay in hospital longer, I found emergency respite for Billy in one of the homes we had initially visited.  The family were very pleased with the care Billy received but for Caroline it was not the facility where she wanted to spend the rest of her life.

Once Caroline and Billy returned home, she called a family meeting, which I attended, and informed her family that she had decided that it was time for her and Billy to make the transition to permanent residential care. She felt that, should there be another crisis, she did not want this undue pressure put on her family again. They had decided on Kew Gardens Aged Care, so I contacted the facility and asked for their application to be moved from waiting to urgent. Within two months a suite became available. They chose the Kew Gardens aged care facility because it is right across the road from their present home and they already have friends residing there.  Set on the edge of beautiful Kew Gardens, it is aptly named and has a pleasing outlook. They will move shortly. I am so pleased that this transition will be far less stressful for them ,due to their taking action and forward planning. I was happy to assist them in their planning and take pride in doing the best for my clients.

Seek Professional Advice On Retirement Village Contracts

Four Corners and Fairfax Media have recently reported on a story about retirement village living which is worrying. My advice to anyone contemplating entering a retirement village is that they should first speak with their family and let them know what they are planning before entering into any contract. They should also seek legal advice about the details of any contract they contemplate entering into, seeking clarification on not only the financial aspects of the contract but also looking at the fine print on lifestyle regulations. This is good practice for any contract, but particularly in the instance of retirement living as the stakes are so high.

Aged Care is not a trademark and any organisation can state they provide aged care. It’s important to understand the difference between private retirement living companies who advertise that they provide aged care and Government funded aged care.

Checking out all aspects of a retirement village or aged care facility is extremely important. This is one of the reasons clients use my aged care consultancy services.They know they will have a professional who will find them the right place to live in their later years and that I will thoroughly assess the suitability of each option. I recommend that my clients seek further professional input from their legal advisors and financial planners experienced in the aged care field.

During my career as an Aged Care Placement Consultant I have seen many cases where a knowledgeable Financial Planner has given advice to a client that has made a positive difference to the type of accommodation they were able to acquire. I care very much for the welfare of all my clients and do not want to see them suffer as they make these very challenging transitions in life from their own home to a retirement village or an aged care facility.

Planned Aged Care Entry

Having struggled myself at times as an Aged Care Placement Specialist to place my clients in a suitable aged care facility that supports their particular needs I fully appreciate the effort Aged Care Admissions Manager Raechel Goldsmith is taking

Raechel Goldsmith

to change the way in which people are accepted into the UnitingCare, Wesley, Port Adelaide facility.

“We’ve had quite a few successful placements where people haven’t been able to be placed elsewhere,” Raechel says “We’ve reviewed them, we’ve learnt what their triggers are, why they were this way, looked at them in the wider picture and then brought them into our aged care with the right systems in place. We are looking at the person as a person and we are planning the admission, rather than it being reactionary, so people are set up to succeed.”

She explains that so often the placement of an elderly person into an aged care facility is reactionary. I am only too well aware of this. In many cases the elderly person becomes ill, they go into hospital and then are assessed as needing fulltime care in a facility. The hospital needs their bed and the family are under pressure to find a suitable home for their loved one in a hurry. It is certainly not an ideal situation.

I am usually able to find the right aged care facility that meets the needs of my clients because I know the facilities well and have a good relationship with the Managers. But if Raechel’s PACE It initiative (Planed Aged Care Entry) was implemented in all aged care facilities it would make it so much easier for those seeking full time care and their families.

Making sure that it’s the right bed for the right person is Raechel’s mantra. She explains that behavioural support around dementia and mental health, proximity to family and friends, and ensuring staff have the right training and expertise are all crucial to ensure a residents’ needs are met.

Some of the elements I look for when helping a client find an aged care facility, as well as those mentioned by Raechel, when helping to find a suitable aged care facility may include: a double room with a double bed for couples, a facility that allows pets for those with a close animal companion, stimulating activities, good onsite facilities like hairdressers, cafes and spaces that embrace visitors, peaceful outlooks and gardens for reflective time or wifi connectivity. Each person is different and has their particular set of needs to live comfortably and contentedly; these should definitely be met wherever they reside.


Top Five Questions To Consider When Seeking An Aged Care Facility


When a person needs the high level of care an aged care facility can provide they face a BIG decision. Which aged care facility to move into.  Of course, it is not always easy to get into a facility as they are often full and this is where my services are of such enormous value, as I can often obtain a placement much quicker than a family can, for instance. When assessing the most suitable aged care facility here are the top five questions to consider:
1.     Cost and affordability
Costs vary between aged care homes and the way they are structured also varies. It is vital that the ongoing costs are understood, the contributions available from the Government are taken into account and the person going into care (and their family) has a full grasp of how much they can afford for ongoing care.  The basic daily fee must be met to contribute towards day-to-day living costs such as meals, cleaning, laundry, heating and cooling.  There is also an accommodation payment, which may be met in full or in part by the Government, while others with more assets will need to pay the accommodation price agreed with the aged care home. I always recommend seeking the help of a qualified Financial Planner who is experienced in the aged care field.
 2.     Appropriate Staffing Levels
A person entering an aged care facility is doing so because they need a high level of care, so it’s important to ensure there is sufficient skilled staff on hand to provide the level of care required. Keep in mind that staff to resident ratios can fluctuate within a facility depending on the care needs of the residents at the time. When assessing staffing levels it’s best to enquire about how the needs of the person seeking care will be met.
3.     Registered Nurses rostered all shifts
There is much debate on the subject of qualified nursing staff levels in aged care facilities at present, due to changes to the legislation. However, I recommend finding an aged care facility that has a registered nurse on staff at all times as they can oversee medications, manage specialised nursing care needs, provide palliative care and will minimise unnecessary transfers to emergency departments
4.     Find Accredited Facilities
All aged care homes need to meet certain residential aged care Accreditation Standards, so residents receive the best care and in order for them to receive government subsidies.
5.     Visiting Doctors
Facilities allow their residents to have their own doctor visit them for their ongoing health needs, which is far preferable, as they know and trust their own doctor and their doctor knows their history. However, unless a resident is within the local area of their treating doctor, the doctor is unlikely to travel to the facility, so the location of the facility may be critical.

Please contact me if you wish to use my services or refer me to assist someone seeking a suitable aged care facility to meet their needs.

It’s Imperative To Have The Right Financial Advice For Aged Care Accommodation


Before helping a client, family member or yourself to move into an aged care facility it is imperative to obtain the correct financial advice. I had an experience this week with a client that really shocked me and highlighted how important this is. My client Margaret, lives in the family home and has been on a disability pension for many years.  Her father suffers from Alzheimer’s Dementia and has been in care since July this year, in a facility where Margaret had signed an agreement to pay a (RAD) Refundable Accommodation Deposit of $550,000.  The Centrelink form submitted for her father showed assets of $90,000 (excluding the family home) which put him into the partially supported category.
Margaret and her brother, with advice from their solicitor and accountant, were going to sell the family home (valued at just over $1M) and use $550,000 from the proceeds to pay the RAD to the facility, and use rest of the proceeds to purchase a smaller home for Margaret to live in.

Margaret soon realised that the current facility was unable to meet her father’s care needs as he needed a dementia secure facility. She was referred to me by a carer to look for alternative and more suitable accommodation. When Margaret told me the plan to sell the family home the following Saturday I was completely shocked! Although I am not a financial planner I do understand the rules around aged care legislation.  I referred Margaret immediately to an Aged Care Specialist Financial Planner and his first response was to take the property off the market as he understood the consequences for the father and Margaret would not be good if they followed their plan.
Firstly, the house is a ‘protected’ asset as Margaret has been living there for over five years on a Centrelink Pension. Margaret did not have the authority to purchase another property with funds from the sale of her father’s property while he is residing in aged care, even though she had Power of Attorney, as it would not be deemed as using his money for a purpose from which he will benefit, as the law decrees.  Secondly, the assets from the property sale would be attributed to her father resulting in him losing most or all of his pension. As he was already deemed a partially supported resident he could not pay more for his accommodation. Thirdly, Margaret would have nowhere to live!
The story has a happy ending as I was able to find accommodation in a dementia wing of a lovely facility with her father as a partially supported resident and NOT paying a RAD. Margaret had been badly advised about paying the RAD as well, and she now knows she is entitled to live in the family home for the rest of her life.  It was a close call.

Going Outside The Square As An Aged Care Placement Specialist


Sometimes you have a placement that is more difficult than others and you find you need to go outside the square.  Recently I was delighted to have finally found a new home on the Gold Coast for a 71 year old  gentleman who has been one of my most difficult placements.  His welfare officer had spent several months searching for suitable accommodation and turned to me for help, knowing my experience as a Placement Specialist could help solve their problem.  ‘David’ has a cognitive deficit caused by two strokes he suffered a few years ago and since that time has been in an aged care facility.

The problem for him is that he has always wanted to go back to Queensland. Every fortnight he buys himself raffle tickets in the Boys Town lottery trying to win a home in Queensland.  From an aged care perspective he has little or no care needs but he can’t live on his own and look after himself. The part of his brain affected by the strokes is that which gives us insight and executive thinking. Because this part of his brain doesn’t function properly David had issues in a previous facility and, as a result, the court deemed him not appropriate to share a care facility with vulnerable females. The alternative was to approach the one and only all-male facility in Queensland who didn’t have a vacancy for David.

So we had to try an alternate pathway and eventually found a lovely supported residence (not aged care) which is able to meet his needs and their clientele are not vulnerable. He will be provided with a community case manager who will be able to see to David’s social and emotional well-being and access to external services. To achieve this outcome it took a lot of steps, I  had to arrange reassessments for David, liaise with State Trustees, organise his flights, arrange for transporting of his belongings and arrange for a carer to accompanying David to his new home. This is all part of the services I offer and going beyond a little too! We really hope this move will make him happy and wish David all the best.

It Takes A Team To Move Into Aged Care

Outdoor Area at Modern Facility

Outdoor Area at Modern Facility

It takes a team of professionals to help an elderly person when they reach a stage in life where they need to move into an Aged Care Facility.  This is such a big step in their life and so many aspects need to be considered and advised upon. As an Aged Care Placement Consultant, I am able to assist people move smoothly into an appropriate Aged Care Facility and I always advise my clients to get advice from an Aged Care Financial Planner, as it’s very hard to move forward in the placement process until it is known what is affordable. Once the person has been assessed by the ACAT team as needing care, the next step is to assess what they can afford in Aged Care and how they will finance their needs moving forward.. I have helped many people source appropriate facilities which are within their financial means, but of course it’s important to establish what those means are. Fortunately, I have a number of Aged Care Financial Planners I trust and can refer my clients to for an honest and accurate assessment of their financial situation.
Often clients have utilised the services of a trusted Accountant for many years. Whilst Accountants are very familiar with their client’s finances different legislation applies to Aged Care, and this is an area in which an Aged Care Financial Planner specialises. So the Placement Consultant, the Aged Care Financial Planner and the Accountant can work well together as a team looking after the best interests of the client. Likewise,clients often have a Solicitor who looks after their affairs. Whilst it is not imperative that the agreement between the facility and the client is scrutinized, some clients prefer their Solicitor to check and advise on the agreement.

A Power of Attorney is usually required for each resident entering an Aged Care Facility and either a Solicitor or the Office of Public Advocate is required to draw up a Powers of Attorney document. A Power of Attorney is required to be responsible for the financial affairs of a person if they lose capacity. I also have a number of highly regarded Solicitors I can refer my clients to.

Single Bedroom at Sapphire Oakley

Single Bedroom at Sapphire Oakley

A Placement Consultant can make a big difference to the time taken to find suitable aged care and to the level of stress on the client and their family. As I have worked within this sector for over twenty years I have a vast knowledge of the different Aged Care Facilities, the Managers of the Facilities and I keep up to date with legislation requirements for Aged Care. I am often able to place a client into a Facility much faster than they or their families could achieve and I take care of all the paper work and negotiations on their behalf, thus saving a lot of time and stress.  As I care for each of my clients, I always follow through when they are placed to make sure they are comfortable with their new home.

How I Carefully Place People Into Aged Care

An Aged Care Facility

An Aged Care Facility

With experience in the aged care industry of over 20 years I have been able to develop an extensive network of contacts with aged care providers.  I also have a sound understanding of what the different facilities can offer you, so I can easily match the most suitable facility to your needs. Often, I can also negotiate a lower fee.

The Steps I take are:

  • I meet with you for an initial appointment at your home or advocate’s home or office.
  • I carefully explain the aged care process and what is involved.
  • I clearly explain the costs of aged care and how it can be paid.
  • I interview you to find out what are the most important considerations you have when looking for a home.
  • I work to your time-frame. Sometimes a situation is urgent and, in this case, I will find a solution to ensure you remain safe.
  • I remain in regular contact with you, however you like to communicate.
  • I will provide a list of appropriate facilities that meet your criteria for you to consider.
  • I make appointments at those facilities you nominate to visit and will either accompany you or send my representative to accompany you, if required.
  • I assist with completing and submitting all the necessary paperwork and wait lists at your chosen facilities.
  • I continue to manage the ongoing wait listing process with each facility on your behalf.
  • I will assist you by providing referrals to reputable, aged care specific financial planners or estate and property services, if required.
  • I assist in the admission process to see that it goes as smoothly as possible.
  • I follow up after admission to make sure you are settled in and content with the facility.

As I don’t have any particular allegiance to any other person or organisation I am able to be totally objective in offering the best options to my clients. I can offer all these services or just some, depending on how much help you want.