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The ABCs of choosing the right aged care provider

Understanding your aged care options can be a bit like trying to understand a new language. Acronyms, industry terms and government jargon can leave you bamboozled. 

So we’ve looked into the basic ABCs of aged care to cut through the hype and to help you make an informed decision. 

Assessment – ACAT or RAS 

A is for assessment. To get started, you must get registered with My Aged Care, who will then organise either an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or a Regional Assessment Service (RAS) assessment for you. 

These assessments evaluate a person’s physical, medical and social needs to determine whether they’re eligible for government-funded support packages for in-home care or residential aged care (previously called nursing home care). 

It’s in your best interest to prepare for the assessment and do your research in advance – a lot depends on this assessment, and it’s best to be transparent with your needs and goals. That way, you’ll get just the support you need! 

Balance – in-home care or residential care 

B is for finding the right balance for you, between independence and care, while being aware of the options and pitfalls. Research extensively and ask the difficult questions of providers. Firstly, understand your options. Generally aged care services fall into two categories – in-home care or residential care. 

For mobile and independent singles or couples, in-home care lets you live according to your own schedule. Initially, you may only need home care services a few hours week to help with cleaning. Then as things change, support can be ramped up to include meal preparation, shopping and transport. For many people looking at elderly care, especially for the first time, home care delivers a great balance. 

In contrast, residential aged care delivers the works! Including accommodation in a dedicated aged care facility with 24/7 support, all meals, personal care, laundry and cleaning. Having the reassurance of on-site carers and services can be very empowering. But as with any full-time commitment, you need to know the pros and cons. 

Ask who owns the company. Is it a not-for-profit, religious organisation, government-run or a big business? This may well influence the quality, and cost, of care. Also know your rights as a consumer, by reading the Charter of Aged Care Rights

Care, choice and costs – compare providers and weigh up options 

Care levels, having choices and funding the cost of support are all vital issues. The benefit of in-home care is the flexibility it gives you to mix it up a bit. In can be delivered in the form of a Commonwealth Home Support Program for those that just need a bit of support, or a tailored Home Care Package offering comprehensive services. 

With residential care however, you’re paying for full-time accommodation. So, visit providers and ask lot of questions. You need to know the ratio of carers to residents. Ask about meal choices, quality and the ability to cater for special diets. Talk to current residents and their families to get the lowdown. Discuss issues such as privacy, personal alarms, cleaning, Wi-Fi access, leisure facilities and opportunities for social outings. 

Be very clear about the funding and payment arrangements too. Ask what’s included in the daily fee you’re quoted and what costs extra. Also determine what specialists are on staff or visit regularly – such as GPs and physios. And consider whether the provider offers the next level of care – such as dementia or Alzheimer’s care. 

Decisions, decisions – and what steps to take to get there 

D is for decisions – and making the best one! Seek as much external feedback as you can. Talk to family, friends, health professionals and your GP. These people may be less emotional and more practical about the options available to you – and they can offer an unbiased view of your current abilities and limitations. 

It sounds like a lot to understand, right? Don’t worry, just take it one step at a time. 

Step one – register with My Aged Care

Step two – My Aged Care will arrange an ACAT or RAS assessment. 

Step three – ask how Feros Care can support you with step one and step two to help make the process painless. 

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