Questions around finding the right aged care facility are pretty common.  Chances are, you’ve caught up with the folks over the holidays and maybe realised that mum and dad were a little more frail than you last remembered, they weren’t coping as well around the house and keeping up with the maintenance, or one of them was becoming noticably forgetful.  A New Year can often kick off with questions about ‘where to from here?’ and ‘how can we handle this the best way?’

Whether you are simply planning ahead for down the track, or are worried that a serious fall or hospital stay is on the cards, it’s definitely worth being prepared and knowing what to ask when you visit with an Aged Care Specialist Adviser or even an aged care facility.

If going straight to the home, ask for a tour of the facility and take note of the residents and staff.  Are they happy and friendy?  Is the place clean and tidy?  Sometimes it’s worth popping by at meal time to have an idea of what is served.  Does the place smell musty or like a hospital ward or is it pleasant?  Are activities organised at the centre and is it an inclusive place to be?  Is this what your parents would like?  Do they have access to outdoor areas, gardens and courtyards or just the four walls of the home?

It’s pretty vital that the family is all on the same page and where possible, all children / siblings are included.  Ask your family member directly about the type of support and services they would like to receive.  Chances are, you’ll find their ideas may be quite different to yours.  They might consider their social lives, being close to a local shopping centre or club is important, whilst you’re focusing on the nursing staff’s capabilities and what the cost is likely to be.

When visitng, have a chat with the carers and nurses – these are the front line of support so it’s worth gettting to know them.  Visit a few facilities that tick your boxes until you narrow the list down.  If you’re short on time, placement agencies or advisers can also help by focusing on what’s important to your loved ones geographically, socially, medically and financially.

When visiting with an Adviser, it’s good to have a list of the quesitons you’d like answered written down or it’s easy to forget something.  If they’re mostly financial questions, ensure you have their assets and liabilities avaialble, and where possible, their ACAT Assessment results.  It’s also vital to ensure that your loved one’s Powers of Attorney are in place before they lose capacity.

You are also able to access consumer reports on government-funded facilities through the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) website.  Choose the facility you’re considering, type in their name and the site will provide insights into what current residents and their families think of the home along with the audit teams findings on compliance, staff education, medication and pain management, palliative care, nutrition and hydration, continence management and so much more.

There’s a lot to consider and it’s best to be prepared rather than waiting for that broken hip and the news that you need to do somthing, and fast!

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