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The move into residential aged care can be extremely challenging, not only for the older person themselves, but also for their loved ones. The decision is never easy, and often follows a period of intense difficulty. It can be complex, time consuming and emotional.

One of the biggest challenges families and older people face is accessing timely and accurate information to help them understand the complex system and navigate their way through it.

Finding the people and services that can guide you along the way can be the key to making the move as smooth and successful as possible.

Access to financial advice from experts in aged care services can also help families understand the complicated economic side of the move, and help achieve the best outcomes for their loved one. 

When home care is no longer enough

When Helen* and her family decided it was time for her to transition into residential aged care, they sought the assistance of Carers Queensland’s Empower Care. They wanted support in navigating the system after experiencing difficulties with the home care services Helen was receiving.

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Helen was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 62. At first, she and her loved ones tried to organise for her to receive the care she needed to remain living in the familiar surrounds of her own home.

But tragically, it wasn’t that simple. The home care support Helen received was completely inadequate to meet her needs. 

Even when funding for the Level 4 home care package came through, to her family’s “absolute dismay” it delivered only 12 hours of care a week.  

“The hours the home care support packages were offering just could not anywhere near meet Helen’s requirements for assistance,” said Helen’s brother in law, Dan*.

The family was left with no option other than to move Helen into residential aged care.

Reaching out for help

After scrambling to find the information they needed about home care, the family enlisted the help of Empower Care to help them navigate Helen’s move into residential aged care.

Annie Dear from Empower Care came and met the family and Helen over two meetings. She explained the options available to them, and what would be required of the family and of Helen.

Empower Care also organised for the family to see a highly skilled and experienced financial planner. 

Negotiating the daily fee

The financial planner’s advice was invaluable to the family as they struggled to understand what was involved. He went through Helen’s finances, helped the family understand Helen’s financial situation, and mapped out a plan for them.

Importantly, he also helped them negotiate a lower daily fee, an option that Dan and Sylivia* (Helen’s sister) weren’t aware was available to them.

“I don’t think Sylvia and I could have managed it ourselves. We would have been corresponding backwards and forwards for months,” said Dan.

The daily care fee was reduced by nearly $20 a day, saving them more than a thousand dollars annually.

Empower Care by the family’s side

Helen had a month of respite before she accepted a permanent bed at the home that Empower Care helped them choose, and she has now been there for four months.

Empower Care staff have seen the family throughout the process, making sure Sylvia and Dan knew how their application for Helen was progressing, and ensuring they were recieving the advice and support they needed. 

“We used to speak to Annie once a week or so and tell her our thoughts and she’d tell us what was required,” Dan explained.

In the shadow of COVID-19

Helen’s move into residential aged care was complicated by COVID-19. 

Visiting has been restricted; since Helen moved in, there have only been two weeks the facility hasn’t been in lockdown. 

Sylvia and Dan had always planned for Sylvia to see Helen two or three times a week, and every Wednesday they’d planned to take Helen out for a drive. “That has all fallen through”, Dan said. 

It’s made the process more difficult, Dan said, but they are beginning to come out of that difficult period now.

The family can look forward now

“Without Empower Care, I think we would have made several mistakes along the way that would have affected Helen,” Dan said. 

“They know exactly what they’re doing, they make sure we’re going in the right direction and we’re doing everything correctly.”

When we spoke to Dan, he said Sylvia had been to see Helen that day. She was in good spirits, and they watched some television together and shared a laugh. Helen has put on weight, which she needed to do, and is well and enjoying herself.

Dan is looking forward to lockdown ending so he and Sylvia can take Helen out more often. Even though the aged care facility has high quality care and plenty of activities for residents, he worries she gets bored. She’s the youngest in the facility by many years, and her mind is still busy with thoughts.

But the family can at least be sure she is comfortable, healthy and being well looked after. She’s receiving the care she needs, and she’s happy. 

For more information about Empower Care, you can visit their website, or contact them on 07 3900 8100 or empowercare@carersqld.com.au.

* Names have been changed.

Image: Silvia Jansen, iStock.

This article has been proudly sponsored by Empower Care.

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