Weighing up and deciding between home care, aged care hostels and nursing homes
As we age it can become much harder to do the tasks we need to do in our everyday lives. Loss of mobility, failing eyesight, physical and mental health conditions can all impact significantly on a person’s ability to live independently. When it comes to assess an older person’s level of independence and need for assistance in completing everyday tasks, it is also necessary to consider their living preferences, in line with the Australian government’s commitment to ‘Ageing in Place’.
This can sometimes make it difficult for the older person, their family, loved ones, carers and enduring guardians, to decide on the level of care the older person needs and who is best placed to provide that care.
Aged care options and ‘ageing in place’
‘Ageing in place’ refers to the right of an older person to remain in their current accommodation or continue their current living arrangement as they age. Research has indicated that older Australians who own their home outright are more likely to choose to age in their own home, and that those who stay in their own home report the highest levels of satisfaction with their living arrangements. For these people it may be a simple matter of accessing a level of assistance that enables them to remain in their own home and maintain their independence.
However, for those older people who don’t own their own home, ageing in their current home may not be feasible or achievable. Likewise, older people with more complex care needs may find they are no longer able to remain in their current accommodation, as in-home supports become insufficient to meet their needs, or the burden of care placed on loved ones becomes too onerous.
In these situations, it becomes necessary to consider alternative accommodation and care options. If you are considering aged care options for yourself, or for a loved one, it can be helpful to get in touch with an advisory service.
What is ‘in-home aged care’?
‘In-home aged care’ is care and assistance provided to an older person, which enables them to continue to live as independently as possible in their own home, for as long as possible. The degree of support required, and the services accessed, will differ from person to person. Those with low support needs may choose to access the Commonwealth Home Support Program to offset costs associated with maintaining their independence, while those with more complex care needs that require a coordinated approach to care and service delivery may be better served by a Home Care Package.
Home care packages can be tailored to meet the needs of individuals, and the in-home aged care services offered by registered service providers generally provide support and assistance with:
- Domestic tasks, including dishwashing, general house cleaning, laundry, shopping and paying bills.
- Meal and food services, including meal delivery services or assistance with meal preparation and cooking.
- Personal care services, including help with bathing or showering, getting in and out of bed, managing or taking medication.
- In-home nursing care services, to maintain the older person’s health and treat and monitor medical conditions.
- Allied health/therapy services, including occupational therapy, speech pathology, podiatry and physiotherapy.
- Home maintenance, to help keep the home and garden in a safe condition. Services may include things like installing security lights and smoke detectors, yard cleaning, fixing damaged or uneven flooring.
- Home modifications, including installation of ramps or grab rails, or redesigning bathrooms or kitchens to make them more accessible.
- Equipment and assistive technology, to help with mobility, communication and personal care, such as walking frames and shower chairs.
- Transport, to help the older person to get out of the home and attend appointments or connect with their community.
- Social support services, to assist the older person to maintain interpersonal connections, socialise with friends and peers and participate in their community. Services may include in-home social calls or group social activities, or help in accessing phone and internet services.
The Australian government offers programs and subsidies to cover or offset the costs associated with obtaining these support services. The degree of financial assistance available to an individual depends on their care needs, the in-home support services they access and, in some circumstances, their financial situation.
What is ‘residential aged care’?
Residential aged care is care provided to an older person who lives in a facility run by the care provider. A residential aged care facility may include a variety of accommodation types, to suit people with a variety of support needs.
Designed for individuals with slightly higher care needs than it is possible for the service provider to deliver in a self-contained unit style of accommodation, hostel-style accommodation provides the older person with their own room within a larger facility. The service provider takes care of laundry, meals, nursing, clinical care and medication management, and care staff are always present to assist with personal care tasks, such as showering, dressing, grooming, and other needs, if required.
The service provider develops an activities schedule, so that there are plenty of things to keep the resident occupied and entertained. The schedule generally includes gentle group exercise sessions, craft activities, social activities (such as day trips, concerts), games and entertainment. Being co-located with other older adults, there are plenty of opportunities for individuals to interact and socialise with others.
A facility that is referred to as a ‘nursing home’ generally provides accommodation that is designed to meet the needs of older adults with high-care needs. This may include those with advanced dementia or significant health conditions, and those who are bed-bound or confined to a chair.
Care staff who work in nursing home-style accommodation are often responsible for attending to all an individual’s personal care needs, including toileting and changing incontinence aids, oral care and hygiene, feeding and dressing the resident, and managing complex medical care needs.
As with hostel-style residential aged care, the nursing home service provider takes care of laundry, cleaning, meal preparation and the organisation of a group activities schedule that suits the needs and capabilities of its residents.
Selecting the right Aged Care option
It can be difficult to assess how much assistance you or your loved one may need, which can make it difficult to choose the right accommodation or care option. If you are considering aged care options for yourself, or for a loved one, and you find yourself at a loss when trying to work out how to obtain assessments or choose the right support plan or care package to cover financial costs associated with accessing services, it can be helpful to contact an advisory service such as ConnectAbility.
ConnectAbility provides an Aged Care Information & Service Assistance service to assist you in locating the right information and services, and help you to ensure that you make the right decision for you or your loved one. ConnectAbility can assist eligible individuals and their carers to find suitable aged care support services and accommodation options, tailored to each person’s unique needs, across the Hunter region, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, the Central Coast, and upper Northern Sydney.
Access Aged Care Assistance and Support with ConnectAbility
ConnectAbility Australia provides a wide range of in-home aged care support services and Home Care Packages. Our Aged Care Information & Service Assistance advisory service can help you navigate the Aged Care system, offering advice and assistance with everything from arranging an Aged Care Assessment (ACAT) to accessing respite care and connecting with support groups.
If you would like more information on how ConnectAbility can help you or your elderly loved one to continue to age in place and live more independently, or access the aged care services they need, please call us on 02 4962 1000 (Newcastle) or 02 4349 3700 (Central Coast). Alternatively, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our contact form to have a ConnectAbility representative contact you.