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What most carers don’t know because nobody tells them?

Making decisions around aged care is emotional, stressful and confusing. Being my first time trying to navigate the aged care system, I had no idea where to start. I tried Centrelink but soon realised I needed another degree to understand the system. I have a young family, work full-time, and my dad has an aggressive form of dementia. While he is still largely independent, my mum is now his full-time carer. This process overwhelmed me, as is the pressure to make the right decision for the person who has spent most of his life helping me make life’s big decisions.

Fortunately for my mum and me, we were introduced to placement consultants – a game-changer.

OUR FAMILY STORY

For my family, guidance from our placement consultant called, Jayne, helped us navigate the aged care system. Her experience and expertise as an aged care coordinator significantly eased our stress, which has been compounded by Covid-19 and media attention surrounding the aged care system.

At our first meeting with Jayne, we talked in detail about my dad: who he is, his likes and dislikes, his interests and hobbies, and of course, his form of dementia. We were genuinely surprised by how much she knew and understood the disease, specifically his rare form of dementia. From there, she guided us through the financial side, including Centrelink and payment options and put us in touch with a financial planner who specialises in aged care. Jayne also processed forms for us, taking much of the logistical load off so we could focus on choosing a facility and caring for Dad.

HELPING TO GET OUR FINANCES IN ORDER

The financial planner went through the finer details with us, including an audit of assets and a consideration of our circumstances. This meant that we could quickly work out what the financial situation would be for our family with the help of an expert. They took everything into account, including things we hadn’t considered, such as whether my mum should continue working and how the financial side of aged care might impact other members of the family, such as my sister, who my mum also cares for. It moved beyond just the finances – Jayne took a holistic approach, showing us what this decision would mean for the lifestyle and care arrangements of everyone involved.

LISTENING AND UNDERSTANDING

Jayne then shortlisted facilities and accompanied us on on-site tours. As a part of the initial briefing, she spent a lot of time understanding who Dad is, so the facilities knew it was important for him to feel at home, have access to a garden, internet access, space to walk and a place to have a red wine and watch sports programs. At each facility, we assessed whether there were other residents who were like him – many people, including me before this, assumed that aged care was full of old, frail people. My dad is very independent and young at heart, and we needed to make sure the place that becomes his home not only has the things he needs but also has neighbours he can form connections and become friends. Our consultant took all of this into account.

We seek experts in so many areas of our lives – surely how we see out the end of our lives is as important as all the other steps along the way.

DAD’S SO HAPPY NOW

With Jayne’s help, we found a facility that we believe will suit my dad and his care requirements. There is a garden for him to maintain and space for family dinners with his kids and grandkids, and it’s close to my mum’s home. Continued family contact and connections are very important to us, and this facility ticks all the boxes for what Dad will need.

The next step will be the transition from our family home of 35 years to his new home. I am not sure I am ready for the next step, and we are not sure when it will be, but we do know it is inevitable, and we are now prepared.

Looking for an aged care facility for my dad has been an emotional and overwhelming experience. Having Jayne as our aged care

Coordinator to guide my family through the process has been a blessing. She went beyond just the logistics and finances and has reassured us that if at any point we need to change the plan, we can. This is not a ‘set and forget plan’ – this is about giving my dad the best life possible. We found that our Aged Care Coordinator was flexible, honest and accommodating, and Jayne advocated for my dad and my family every step of the way, making sure that we found a solution that was in everyone’s best interest.

Knowing what I know now, I would never go through this process without an Aged Care Coordinator. We seek experts in so many areas of our lives – surely how we see out the end of our lives is as important as all the other steps along the way.

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