Over summer, spending time with older friends and relatives may have identified that daily tasks are becoming more difficult for some. However, accepting they have a need can be difficult, despite evidence that suggests quality of life can improve with support.
I always encourage older individuals I meet to be generous to themselves with respect to using their personal financial resources to support their own wellbeing. I know that having to pay for support with day to day tasks, such as cleaning, gardening, home maintenance and meal preparation, can be difficult to accept. However, if assistance helps to sustain quality of life, relationships, and the ability to continue with treasured activities, I believe it is worth it.
I also recommend short term support options following a health event (such as a fall), with a focus on restoring function, and a period of respite care to provide a break for family carers.
Most people choose to remain in their home for as long as they can with support to maintain relative quality of life. For those with limited means, the Government offers financial assistance through subsidising services, such as the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP).
More comprehensive in-home services, including nursing care, is available through a ‘Home Care Package’ to support people with more complex needs. There are four levels of Home Care Packages. Eligibility is through an assessment by My Aged Care. The Government sets the fees for these services, including a means tested fee. There are annual limits to this means test, and lifetime maximum means test limits, whether it be for Home Care Packages or residential aged care.
For some, circumstances may mean they need to consider a move to a residential aged care home. Interestingly, quality of life for individuals in residential aged care compares favourably. Research undertaken by the Australian Centre on Quality of Life, at Deakin University, the South Australian Aged Care Wellbeing and Satisfaction Survey, July, 2017 with the South Australian Innovation Hub, a collaboration between ten aged care organisations, indicated that a sample of residential aged care residents had a higher quality of life score when compared with those living in the general community.
The starting point for support is to contact My Aged Care (free call number: 1800 200 422 or visit myagedcare.gov.au) or by contacting your preferred service provider organisation, who can assist you to contact My Aged Care.
Opinion piece by Richard Hearn
CEO Resthaven Incorporated