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From Respite to Permanent Aged Care: what you need to know

Entering residential Respite Care is often a decision made to provide temporary relief for both seniors and their caregivers. This might be because you need additional support during a caregiver’s absence, to simply give a caregiver a break, or to try out Permanent Aged Care as an option before making a commitment. 

But, as your circumstances evolve, you might consider transitioning from Respite Care to a Permanent Aged Care placement as an option. There are various reasons you might make this shift, including having increasing care needs, safety concerns, or the desire for a more supportive environment. 

The good news is that understanding the process for moving into Residential Aged Care and preparing for this transition is reasonably simple. Here’s what you need to know for a smooth and comfortable move.

Making a Permanent Aged Care application

Navigating the Aged Care system in Australia can seem daunting at first, but there are lots of resources and support available to guide you through the process, every step of the way. If you’re already accessing Respite Care, you will have already taken some of the steps you need to take, so the path will be smoother. 

To apply for Permanent Aged Care, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Assessment: The first step is to undergo an aged care assessment, known as the ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team), via My Aged Care. If you’re already accessing residential Respite Care, you will already have had an ACAT assessment.
  2. Research and choose a facility: Research Aged Care Residences in your preferred location, keeping in mind factors such as services offered, proximity to family and friends, and the overall atmosphere of the facility. Visiting potential residences and asking questions can help you make an informed decision. Of course, if you’re already in an Aged Care Residence you like (Respite Care), this will be an easy choice!
  3. Submit an Aged Care application: Once you’ve chosen a residence, submit an application for permanent residency directly to them. Keep in mind that there may be an Aged Care waiting list for some residences, so it’s better to apply as early as possible.
  4. Financial assessment: A means-tested assessment will determine how much of the Aged Care costs will be covered by the Australian Government, and how much you will have to pay. This assessment considers factors such as any income and assets, as well as the costs that apply to additional amenities or services. 
  5. Acceptance and agreement: If your Aged Care application is successful and a place becomes available, you’ll receive an offer of permanent residency from the Aged Care Residence. Review the agreement carefully and ensure you understand the terms and conditions before accepting – and ask questions about anything you don’t understand or that you’re concerned about.
  6. Transition plan: Work with the Aged Care Residence to create a transition plan that outlines the permanent move-in process, including any specific care needs or preferences.

Preparing your loved one for the transition

Transitioning from Respite Care to Permanent Aged Care can be emotional for both seniors and their loved ones. 

Facility Manager at TriCare Jindalee, Josef Casais, says the biggest challenge often comes from not understanding the Aged Care process – something that can be mitigated by the ‘try-before-you-buy’ approach of entering Respite Care first.

“People coming to Aged Care for the first time can have a huge amount of stress, anxiety, and guilt for whatever personal reason they may have for enquiring,” he says. 

“It is like handing over your child into childcare for the first time, there is a letting go phase. Also we need to let go of the idea that everything will be perfect from the get-go. People take time to adjust to a new environment, and there will be teething concerns, staff getting to know your loved one, and vice versa.”

Plus most challenges can be made easier by being already in Respite Care before you move to Permanent Aged Care. 

Here are some strategies for preparing your loved one for this transition:

  • Open communication: Approach the conversation with empathy and understanding – it’s a big decision for everyone! Acknowledge any concerns or fears everyone may have and talk them through, with the understanding that you’ll make a decision with everyone’s best interests in mind.
  • Focus on the benefits: There are plenty of benefits of Permanent Aged Care, such as access to round-the-clock support, social activities, and specialised care services. Take time to notice the benefits of Respite Care, and emphasise how this longer term transition will enhance quality of life, and ensure optimum safety and wellbeing.
  • Involve your loved one in decision-making: Whenever possible, involve your loved one in the decision-making process. Ask them what they like and don’t like about their Respite Care, and encourage them to visit Aged Care Residences with you if possible, and participate in discussions about their preferences and priorities.
  • Provide emotional support: Offer reassurance and emotional support throughout the transition process. Listen to concerns and validate any feelings your loved one may have. It’s normal to feel apprehensive about change, and there can be a settling in period while everyone gets used to the ‘new normal’.
  • Plan visits and activities: Arrange regular visits to your loved one in Respite Care before the permanent move so you can experience it together. Participate in activities to help them feel more comfortable and connected to their new community.

Life admin tasks when moving into Residential Aged Care

As you prepare for the transition to Permanent Aged Care, there are several practical tasks that will need to be taken care of. Use the following checklist to ensure you’ve addressed all necessary preparations:

  1. Decide what to do with the home and furniture:

   – Determine whether to sell the home or rent it out.

   – Sort through furniture and belongings, deciding what to keep, donate, or sell.

  1. Inform relevant parties:

   – Notify government agencies, banks, insurance companies, and utility providers of the change in address and living arrangements.

   – Update emergency contacts and medical providers with the new aged care facility’s details.

  1. Arrange for legal and Financial Matters:

   – Update or create a power of attorney and advance care directives, if necessary.

   – Review and update wills, trusts, and estate plans to reflect the change in circumstances.

  1. Organise moving logistics:

   – Coordinate with the Aged Care Residence to schedule the move-in date and arrange transportation for belongings.

   – Pack essential items and personal belongings to make the transition more comfortable for your loved one.

  1. Support emotional adjustment:

   – Offer ongoing emotional support and reassurance during the transition period.

   – Encourage your loved one to participate in social activities and engage with their new community to foster a sense of belonging.

By following these steps and providing compassionate support, you can help ease the transition from residential Respite Care to Permanent Aged Care for your loved one with minimal fuss. Remember that it’s normal to experience a range of emotions during this time, but with careful planning and communication, you can ensure a smooth and positive transition for all involved.

Our final tip is from Josef from TriCare Jindalee: “Give yourself time to adjust. Aged Care is a totally new experience and I have found that allowing a person at least four weeks to adjust to a new environment really helps.”

Want to talk to one of our Aged Care specialists about Permanent Aged Care? Inquire by clicking below or call 1300 874 2273.

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