Residential aged care is a big move for anyone to contemplate. Are the rooms comfortable? Will there be things to do each day? What about the people – and the food?
If it’s something you and your parent are considering, a short stay of two weeks or more at a residential aged care home – otherwise known as residential respite care – can be a great way to try before making a decision. Short stay residents are entitled to the same care and support services as permanent residents, things like meals and social activities as well as services to meet personal and care needs. So it can really help to give them a good idea of what life could be like. And they’ll probably be pleasantly surprised to find it’s not like nursing homes used to be.
The government subsidises up to 63 days of respite care per year. Just like permanent residents, those having a short stay are required to pay the basic daily fee which is set at 85% of the single aged pension rate. This is the pricing benchmark the government sets for everyone, whether or not they actually receive the aged pension. If the home provides specified ‘additional services’ you may be asked to pay for those, and some may also charge a booking fee. However, homes cannot ask for the means-tested fee or accommodation payments which sometimes apply to permanent residents.
The first step is to establish eligibility. Anyone entering residential aged care for any period of time needs to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to determine the level of care they need. Assessments are free and can be arranged by visiting myagedcare.gov.au or calling 1800 200 422.
When considering a location for your parent’s short stay, think about what would help them to feel most comfortable. Being within easy reach of family members might be an important consideration for them and you. If they have strong connections to their own community, somewhere nearby would make it easier for neighbourhood friends to visit.
It’s good to make plans ahead of time as well. While most residential aged care homes provide rooms for short stays, these can sometimes be booked up quite a while in advance. If you have a specific home or provider in mind, it’s best to make contact with them as early as possible to check on their availability and booking process. They’ll also be able to clarify any questions you have about facilities, costs or care.
If your parent is living with dementia or has other particular health concerns, these will have been noted as part of the Aged Care Assessment so staff at the home will be aware of their needs and support requirements.
When helping your parent to pack for a residential aged care short stay, clothes that they are comfortable and happy with are best. As arrangements for personal laundry vary from home to home it’s best to enquire in advance so you can plan accordingly.
A few personal items – some photographs, books, a favourite rug or cushion – can help them to feel at home in their room. To be on the safe side, try to avoid packing breakable ornaments or anything that is too valuable.
The length of stay is something you can discuss with the provider at the time of booking. Most prefer a minimum of two weeks. It’s generally best to make it a reasonable length of time so your parent can settle in and get a real feel for life at the home.
Sometimes people enjoy the experience so much they decide that they’d like to stay on! While timing will depend on room availabilities, it’s something that providers are always happy to discuss. If there are no suitable rooms available right away, they can talk with you about the process for booking and other things to be considered.
Making the transition to residential aged care is a big step for everyone concerned and it’s helpful to have someone to talk with you about what’s involved in the process. With many years of experience, Anglicare has people who can guide you through each step.
Wherever you’re at on the journey, call us on 1300 111 278 for help in making the best decision for the parent you love.