“It’s not just a job”
A placement consultant looks for aged care accommodation for a person – but really it can be for any age, I’ve worked with younger people, I work with older people, people with dementia, people with no family.
But what I like to think of myself is more of an advocate, than anything else. My biggest wish when I deal with people is to find the best outcome for them – and do whatever I have to do to get that for them.
Because a lot of people just don’t understand and can be taken advantage of, so they need someone on their side. I’ve been doing this for about 12 years now, and before that I was in aged care. I just do it because I love it. And I just want the best that I can possibly get for people.
It’s not just a job to me, it’s just worth so much to get a really great outcome for people that I may never see again.
I’ve had my fair share of interesting clients, some were even from the glamourous light of fame. I’ve worked with actors, movie directors – many of them live in the US and UK and needed assistance with the parents who were still in Australia. I’m able to help people out from a long distance.
One, who shall remain nameless, was an actor (father of another Australian actor) who came to see me for help looking for a retirement villa with an aged care on-site for him and his partner. His partner had a few health issues and he wanted her to be looked after.
He was a funny man, he had everything all typed up, all this requirements – and there were a lot of them – as to what he wanted. It had to have a gym, it had to have a pool, it had to be this and that.
He started off wanting it to be in an area with lots of trees, up to 20km outside of Melbourne in the bush. So I found all these places that fit that for him, and then he came back to me and decided that he wanted it down near the bayside instead!
We did a whole heap more work, down near the bayside. And then he changed his mind again! Now he wanted it down in Mornington near where his actor son lived.
Unfortunately before I could finish helping him and his partner, he passed away. He was a real character.
I have this one client, who I love to bits. He’s around 86-87. I met him around three years ago – I knew him before I even started my own business.
This gentleman was abused financially and he had no living relatives. He ended up selling his property and making a lot of money. He then moved to a nursing home.
He can’t talk because he’s deaf, but we communicate via email. One day I sent to him, “why don’t I come and have lunch with you?” And his response was that in the 18 months he’d been there no one had come and visited him.
So now I regularly go have lunch with him. He has nobody else. He looks forward to my visits. A really nice friendship has developed with him.
A Word of Advice
Finding a place for a loved one is different for every family and every family situation.
If the person who is going to be living in the facility or village is mentally competent, then you have to talk about it with them with a positive point of view.
If you’re the son or daughter who is driving long distances to check on your parents because you’re scared that they’ve fallen or done something – sometimes as hard as it is you need to let them know the impact their needs are also having on your own life.
From a family’s perspective, you have to make the person feel like they own their decision and that they had input into it. I always ask the family, it’s usually them who approach me, “do you want your loved one involved in the decision?”
I understand that some have dementia and are not always in a position to make insightful decisions around moving into care, so for them it may not be a good idea. But if they are in a position to make their own decision I think you have to respect that and try and include them.
A lot of the children feel guilt – feeling that they should have taken care of them better, they should have been able to do something to keep them at home, or they should have been able to afford a full time carer.
It eats away at them and that’s where I try to advocate for the family as well as the person going into care. I try to get them to see each other’s perspective so that there are negative feelings, no blame or guilt. We all want what’s best for each other.
Caring for the elderly is perhaps the greatest responsibility we have.
Jillian Slade is a placement consultant who has worked in the aged care industry for over 20 years. She started her own placement agency, Oasis Aged Care Solution, in 2015 where she helps families and people alike to find the right aged care facility for them.