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Does respite care provide the answer to a smoother transition to residential aged care?

It can be a difficult decision for families, when as their trusted healthcare practitioner, your recommendation is for their loved one to move into residential aged care to receive the best support moving forward.

Navigating a patient’s reluctance for what they believe is a loss of independence can be a challenge when you must balance that with sound and honest advice.

However, TriCare says its respite care service is a great way of introducing the idea of residential aged care to those who want to experience what permanent care might be like before they make any longer-term commitments. 

“We talk about it as an opportunity to ‘try before you buy’,” said TriCare Williams Landing Facility Manager Nithin Shetty, adding that it can take the pressure out of decision-making for both the person in need of care and their family and friends.

It’s an option we’d like to see more people taking advantage of because people can experience a taste of permanent residential care without the risk that they’ll regret their decision. They can see how they adjust to the residence, staff and location, and if they have any misconceptions or concerns about what life in an aged care residence is like, they can have those addressed as well.

Centenarian Mary Micallef’s family say they went on a lengthy ‘journey of self-discovery’ with a range of aged care providers. Mary had lived in a retirement village following the death of her husband, but eventually her needs became greater, and her family searched for appropriate aged care support. 

“Over time, it was decided that Mum would spend two weeks of respite in various nursing homes that were being considered and for her to decide on her choice of homes,” Mary’s daughter, Melita Proebstl explained.

Giving her mother an active role in the decision-making process offered a smoother transition to permanent care for Melita and her family, “What a relief it was! Within three days of what was to be another two weeks respite, it was clear to Mum and to all of us we had finally found the perfect place for Mum to spend her twilight years,” Melita said of finding TriCare’s Williams Landing Aged Care Residence.

Martin Taylor, 83, also relished the chance to try a residence before making one of the biggest decisions of his life.

“Dad absolutely loved his respite stay at TriCare Williams Landing, and has since moved in full-time,” Martin’s son, Danny explained.

“From the moment he moved in, we noticed a positive change in his outlook and health—the staff have been absolutely fantastic and so considerate of his needs”, Danny added.

Martin at Sip n Paint
Martin Taylor attending a Sip n Paint Session at TriCare Williams Landing

Of course, respite care isn’t always a ‘try-before-you-buy’ option; it can also be a welcome opportunity for carers to take a much-needed break from caring for their loved one—whether it’s for planned holidays, a family emergency, health reasons, or just to take a break and recharge. 

But the popularity of respite care as a way to smooth the transition to permanent care is growing, with The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reporting that 64% of those entering permanent care have tried a respite service first (from their most recent data from 2019-20). This is a significant increase from just 26% ten years earlier. And of those who tried respite care, over half (52%) went on to enter permanent care on the same day they exited respite care.

“Being able to experience a taste of permanent care first-hand, without the commitment, has made a world of difference for many people we’ve seen in our facilities,” Mr Shetty said.

Learn more about Respite Care at TriCare Williams Landing here.