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Moving into Aged Care: Tips for making a successful transition

Moving into Residential Aged Care can be a complex and challenging process, both for the seniors moving in, and for their families and loved ones. It’s often the case that people make contact with an Aged Care Residence because of a significant health event affecting someone they love and care about, and emotions can be running high. 

Choosing the best Aged Care facility for your loved one is important, and to add to that feeling of stress and anxiety, decisions often seem urgent to secure the bed or to respond to a hospital pushing for a quick discharge.

When you make that call, you might expect a salesperson on the other end of the line, but what may surprise you is that TriCare’s Aged Care Specialists who talk with you on the phone are specially trained to act as a ‘quasi’ social worker, and case manager all rolled into one. They’re there to help you figure out the steps, and to talk you through your options, so you can take your time, ask all the questions you want to ask, and rely on our specialists to know the answers for you.

Aged care consultation

Understanding the process of making an Aged Care application

Facility Manager at TriCare Jindalee, Josef Casais, says the biggest challenge he sees when talking with families about making an Aged Care application is understanding the process. 

“People coming to Aged Care for the first time can have a huge amount of stress, anxiety, and guilt, which can arise for a range of personal reasons, when they begin enquiring,” he says. “It is like handing over your child into childcare for the first time – there is a letting go phase. 

“Another challenge is the idea that things need to be perfect from the get-go. People take time to adjust to a new environment, and there will always be teething issues. New relationships need to be developed, the staff need to get to know the new resident, and the new resident needs to get to know the staff and their new neighbours, and how things work. That can’t happen on day one, but it does happen quite quickly if everyone allows it to happen.”

Moving into Residential Aged Care

Making that decision is just the beginning, of course, and after that comes the transition from home-based care to permanent Aged Care. Josef says, in his experience, having as much information as possible is helpful. 

Every tour that I conduct, and any response I make to an enquiry, I try to give as much information I can on what to expect when coming into Aged Care. I have seen how effective it can be in easing a little bit of anxiety for the family or the client who I am talking with. Also, a little bit of smile along the way always helps!

“Once they come in, I personally greet my new residents and check in with them on how their first few nights have been. Keeping an open presence for them to reassure them that there will be someone listening to them about their first experience is important to us.”

Aged care worker and resident

Advice if you’re considering moving into Residential Aged Care

Everyone’s needs and expectations will be different, so there’s no one-size-fits all approach to moving into Permanent Aged care, says Josef, but he does offer some reassuring words.

“Aged Care has changed through the years,” he says. “It is not as restrictive as it once was, and life does not need to stop once you move into Aged Care. It’s not an ending, it’s the beginning of a new chapter of your life. A lot of Aged Care Residences these days advocate for independence. We certainly do at TriCare!

“I would describe Aged Care these days as an extra support to keep your life going. Your lifestyle in Aged Care can still be whatever you want it to be. You can go out shopping and meet friends during the day, knowing you have a safe place to sleep at night. But our Clinical Team will discuss with you and your family how you can manage risk factors to make sure you’re safe and cared for.”

Your new home, but different

While an Aged Care Residence will aim to be your new home, and will provide all the comforts and care they can, it’s also important to understand that it won’t be the same, says Josef.

“Aged Care will never be the same as home, of course, but it can come close, and with a few personal touches, it can become your new home,” he says. “Hang your photos, bring a couple of chests of drawers or even a bar fridge. Some of my residents even have a kettle in their room (subject to function assessment)!”

Aged care couple

Tips for a smooth transition into Residential Aged Care

If you’d like to make your, or your loved one’s, move into Residential Aged Care as smooth as possible, these are our top three tips for making that happen:

  1. Take the time to sit as a family to discuss and agree what will work for the whole family and for the person who is making the transition. This should include a discussion around what are the deal breakers in terms of amenity, services, location, care, room size, activities, pastoral care. Families should also think about how easy it will be to visit, what are the visiting hours and policies of any future residence, and whether or not you need to work on a plan to ensure that visits are spread out across the week and not just everyone all at once.
  2. Get online, get on the phone and speak to the independent experts in all things aged care. This may include government websites such as My Aged Care. It should also include getting some financial information from a good independent advisor on how you’ll handle Aged Care fees and charges. Centrelink also provides assistance with this through their Financial Information Service. It is really important to understand how Aged Care works in Australia before you commit to anything, and before you sign documents or submit any Aged Care paperwork. Also, make sure you ask any provider to explain their residential agreements so that you are clear about their terms of business and their Aged Care fees and charges, especially their billing and accounts procedures.
  3. Make sure that all your future planning documents are in place. This should include understanding who holds the Enduring Power of Attorney and Guardianship and if an Advanced Care Directive has been made. These important documents will enable responsible people to sign residential care agreements and to manage affairs for the person entering care. This could be things such as cancelling telephone accounts, cancelling Foxtel subscriptions. etc.

Good pre-planning is the key to a successful transition to Permanent Aged Care. In a perfect world we would have these discussions well before they were ever needed, however, it is never too late to start a conversation.

And a final key piece of advice for those moving into Aged Care comes from Josef:

“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 is essential, and giving that information to the client and family as a head up also helps so they understand the reality and know what to expect.”

Want to talk to an Aged Care Specialist about your options? Call us on 1300 874 2273, or book a tour or a free consultation by clicking below. 

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