This article has been written by a client of ours, Lorraine.
Being on the upper side of 60 – a Baby Boomer – I have always considered myself well prepared for any issues which may arise – be they lifestyle, health, financial or family. Now, sadly, my confidence around these issues is being eroded.
• Yes, I think I am financially secure (Rex keeps telling me that!)
• Yes, I am mostly happy with my lifestyle
• Yes, I have a wonderful family with my three children happily married (as far as I know) and with growing families of their own
• I am beginning to face some of the health problems which creep up on all of us as we grow older – however, fortunately there aren’t any major health issues.
Why, then, this little frisson of uncertainty in my very comfortable paddock? AGED CARE and, more specifically, ASSISTANCE– a huge issue for all of us. TO PUT THIS INTO CONTEXT – think the two big words our generation now focus on: RETIREMENT and OLD AGE – unfortunately it’s a sad but inevitable fact that these words are inextricably linked.
So… Why am I writing this rather depressing treatise for you to read?
My name is Lorraine. I have been working in the aged services industry for a number of years. I work actively with many ageing clients who are in receipt of “home care packages” and/or similar supports provided either through various local government, federal government or even private agencies with the ultimate aim being to enable these people to make their own choices about remaining living in their own homes for as long as they wish and are able to do so.
The very first challenges most of these people have faced are the most elementary.
• Do I really need help?
• Do I want to acknowledge that I need help?
• Do I want my family and friends to know that I need help?
• The big one – what if my kids find out that I need help? – Will they put me in a home?
Mmmmmm… I won’t ask the kids for any help… no need to let them know I’m ageing.
In Australia, there were 72,126 admissions into permanent residential aged care in 2015-2016,
compared to 44,074 admissions into home care.#
These are so many of the reactions I have seen from my clients over the years. I now find myself in the very same, unenviable, position. Soon after Christmas our son visited from overseas – the first time in 2 years. My husband and I were both horrified to be described as elderly – What, us?!
“Mum, you clearly struggle to maintain the desired level of cleanliness and tidiness in the house.”
“Dad, you can only manage to mow the front lawn before taking a break and tackling the back garden either tomorrow or the next day.”
“Time to start thinking about outsourcing some of the heavier work.“
What??? Are you going to pay for that? On second thoughts, no, we’re not going to discuss that as it would amount to an admission that I AM getting old!
Now, quite apart from what has clearly been a shock to us to be described in such ungratifying terms I am beginning to see the sense in what my “dear little boy” has said. I now feel able to give this vexing question some consideration. For me, this is clearly a much easier process than for many of my peers. Through my recent working life I now find myself to have an advantage. I am reasonably computer literate so I am easily able to access the government website at myagedcare.gov.au. This is the first port of call for all of us these days. However, sadly, this is where the term “easy” becomes somewhat blurred.
Yes, the Australian Government is doing its level best to provide our older citizens with services and advice which can be responsive to their identified needs.
Unfortunately, the devil lies in just how an older individual with, perhaps, limited computer literacy can navigate through the aged care system in order to obtain:
• precisely what they need
• at a cost they can afford
• in a time, place and manner which they desire
• with billing arrangements they understand and can meet
The time between approval and entry to permanent residential aged care has increased by 87% since 2013–14, from 45 days to 84 days. This is likely due to changes in 2014 that removed expiry dates from most assessments.#
Computer literacy aside there is still the difficulty around talking to the self assured individual at the other end of the telephone line who is asking you countless questions which you believe to be irrelevant to your current needs.
After crossing that first hurdle of getting through the plethora of sometimes quite personal questions you will now be assigned an Aged Care ID which will remain the single most important “guiding star” in this whole tawdry process. “What, me?” you ask! Aged Care ID? I don’t want to go into Aged Care! I just want a little bit of help with some of the heavier chores.
This brings me to the simple reason why I am writing this perhaps depressing treatise for your consumption. I have finally decided to “throw in the towel” and stop dragging myself into the office each working day – after all I’m well on the upper side of 65 – and attempt to offer some assistance to those of you who may be wishing to access some clear, plain, unbiased information about “the aged care system” with less emphasis on ageing and more emphasis on what will work best for us as we ENJOY our RETIREMENT. After all, this is what we have all worked toward over the years so why not, at this stage in our lives, be informed without being talked down to and have the opportunity to make choices which suit us?
I will shortly be departing the often safe but also challenging environment of regular paid employment and, after enjoying a period of well earned long service leave, hope to join Rex Claringbold and his happy team to share some of my learnings with you.
After travelling the world for a couple of months – yes I will visit that delightful young son for another reminder of how old I am getting – before returning to Melbourne in the new financial year and, hopefully, meeting you to plan how we can get the best out of the aged care system for you whilst you enjoy your retirement.
# – Sourced from https://www.gen-agedcaredata.gov.au/