Finding an aged care home is a time consuming and often stressful experience. Often it is not considered until there is an urgent need and time is of the essence. If at all possible don’t wait until it reaches crisis point – the sooner you can start planning and researching suitable facilities – for yourself or elderly loved ones – the less stressful it will be when the time comes to make the move to an aged care home.
Once the decision has been made that living at home is no longer an option, where to now? How do you decide which aged care home is right for you or your loved one? Often this decision needs to be made under stressful circumstances, with the responsibility thrust on to family members provided with a book the size of the phone directory with the details of all the facilities within a 200k radius from which they are expected to find ‘the right one’. Sadly, more often than not there is pressure - to find a bed as soon as possible, and to accept the first bed available if the person is in hospital and unable to return home. This only serves to make the whole process overwhelming and stressful.
On top of this pressure the decision maker faces the emotional difficulty of making the decision and possible consequences of choosing ‘the right one’ ? What if mum or dad is not happy there? What if they are not well looked after? What if they can’t continue the activities they love to do?
It is a big decision - and one that needs careful consideration, thorough research and a clear decision making process. Like any major life decision there are questions you need to ask to be sure you are clear on what you want:
- What is it you value in a home?
- What does my ideal aged care home look like?
- What are the most important features?
- What are the non-negotiable inclusions or must haves?
You’ll need to consider some big questions before you start looking ..... to narrow down you search to only those facilities that are going to match you or your loved ones needs and preferences.
Some questions to consider as a starting point are:
What geographical area?
How important is an exact location?
Is it close to family / friends?
What can I afford?
Do I have a clear picture of my assets and my ‘status’ for entry into an aged care facility?
What’s important on a day to day basis?
Availability of outings or in-house activities, private room, private bathroom, standard of food, additional facilities such as an on-site hairdresser?
How important is it to keep your current doctor?
Quality of care staff and staff to resident ratios?
These are just a few of the many questions you’ll need to answer to help you narrow down the options to a short list of suitable facilities.
Once you have narrowed your search you will need to consider each facility to find the best one. To do this you need to visit the homes, spend some time watching how the staff interact with the residents, and if possible speak with family members of residents there to gauge their opinion of the facility. It may help to take a relative or friend with you for a second opinion.
If the whole process seems overwhelming – or you are struggling to make an objective decision at an emotionally difficult time – seek help from a professional. Having an independent, professional placement consultant do the work for you can relieve feelings of stress, guilt and worry that people feel when finding an aged care home for a loved one. Not only does seeking professional assistance relieve your stress, it saves time. Doing the research to find the best home and then completing the application process takes up a lot of time.
Once you've made the decision - it's important to remember that if you or your loved one are not comfortable in an aged care facility – you are able to move to another facility at any time, provided you give the required notice. Most importantly – don’t wait until it reaches crisis point – the sooner you can start planning and researching suitable facilities – for yourself or elderly loved ones – the less stressful it will be when the time comes to make the move to an aged care home.