A Step By Step Guide To Aged Care Assessment
Many people struggle with the decision to place a loved one in aged care, they often ask themselves whether it is the right time or whether they are making the right decision.
Whilst there is no easy time to place a loved one in care, many people start considering aged care services when they fear for the health, safety and well-being of their loved one, despite informal caring by family members and friends.
Many people will begin with Home & Community Care Services if their loved one only requires part-time Aged Care care. Home and Community Care is when a set amount of hours of Aged Care care is delivered to the home every week.
This is a perfectly logical place to start, however some elderly people will get to a point where home and community care services are not enough and they need 24 hour care.
Once your loved one has reached this point, it is time to consider 24 hour care by professionally trained staff. It will always be better for the well-being of not only the elderly person, but also for those who are providing informal care.
There are a few care options in residential aged care, before you visit or contact a residence you must make sure that the residence offers the type of care you are looking for.
Aged care options include:
‘Low care’ residential aged care facilities (formerly known as hostels) means that the person does need some help to remain independent, but does not have complex and ongoing health care needs.
‘High Care’ residents in an aged care facility need help 24 hours a day to perform most daily living tasks. High Care was formerly known as ‘Aged Care homes’ and high care residents are required to be provided with additional services. These services include aids for mobility, toilet and incontinence management assistance and more basic toiletries.
Dementia Specific Care
When a residential aged care facility has a dementia specific unit, which means they have a part of their facility which is specifically dedicated to those who suffer from dementia.
If your loved one is suffering from dementia, it is a good idea to ask the facilities whether they have a dementia specific unit or offer dementia specific care.
Respite Care is when an elderly person is placed in an aged care facility on a short term basis. A respite bed may be used for a few days, a weekend or a few weeks but it is not a permanent bed.
Respite Care is ideal for when family and friends need a short break from caring for their loved one, or when an elderly person has left hospital and is not quite ready to return home yet a respite bed for a few weeks can be organised.
Before you can start looking at aged care facilities, you will need your loved one to have an ACAT assessment.
The majority of residential aged care facilities will not consider a place for you without an ACAT assessment.
An ACAT assessment is a government body that will assess the aged care needs of the elderly person. They will determine which aged care services your loved one requires.
What Happens During an Assessment?
During an ACAT assessment you will be visited by one or two members of an ACAT team, who will go through the activities that you find difficult to manage.
They will discuss with you your care options and inform you how to access these services.
How Do I Get One?
You will most likely be able to get a referral for an ACAT assessment from a GP, social worker or community nurse. Or you can contact ACAT directly and may be able to arrange an assessment yourself.
A useful tool is the Aged Care Assessment Team Finder which can be used to locate the closest ACAT team in your area.
Finding the Right Facility for You
Now that you know what type of care you are looking for, whether it be low care, high care or respite care and you have an ACAT assessment, how do you find the right facility?
Finding Facilities in Your Area
First you will have to look at facilities in your area and see what care they offer.
When looking at a facility’s location you may not only want to consider the distance between yourself and your loved one, but whether your loved one can stay in an area that is familiar to them if possible and is close by to their current social networks.
Research and Note Their Services
You can easily eliminate the facilities which are not suitable to your needs, for example if you find a facility in your area which only offers low care but you need high care, then that facility can be crossed off the list.
Make a list of pros and cons for each facility, consider not only care services and location but the staff to patient ratios, the lifestyle and activity program and anything else which may help your decision.
Call the Facility and Arrange a Tour
After your research call the facilities which you are interested in the most and ask to arrange a tour.
Make sure you take the person who will be staying at the facility with you if possible, try to make them a part of the decision making process as much as possible. Note which ones they respond to positively, after all you are looking for their new home.