E13: Choosing & Paying for Residential Aged Care with Craig Gear

While most of us want to stay in our homes as we age, sometimes a move to residential aged care is necessary because sufficient care and support can’t be provided at home.

But so many of us are justifiably wary about living in a nursing home after the disturbing findings of the Aged Care Royal Commission.

The good news is that reform is underway, and improving quality, transparency and safety in aged care is a priority of the current Government. In this episode, Paul Gear, Chief Executive Officer from the Older Person’s Advocacy Network explains the basics of residential aged care and some of the improvements underway. Ideally, he says it should provide easy access to nursing and personal care in a safe environment that facilitates connection and quality of life in a village and family atmosphere.

There are three sectors provided residential aged care; public aged care, not-for-profit, and for profit, which is around 40 percent of the sector. He says there are quality, and substandard providers in all sectors. Research is essential in locating the best quality care.

To access aged care, you need an assessment of both your needs, and your financial situation. This is accessed through the government site, My Aged Care. Depending on your financial circumstances you pay a refundable accommodation deposit (RAD). This is returned on your death, or if you leave the facility. There is also a daily fee called the Basic Daily Fee to cover meals and care. This is around 85% of the single aged pension. There is also a means tested care fee, set at a maximum of $264.81 per day. Fees and charges are based on your ability to pay, which is determined through a means test.

Understandably, everyone wants good quality, safe accommodation. A star rating system is forthcoming but there are basic checks everyone can do. When visiting potential accommodation, Craig Gear says there are important indicators including: the happiness of the staff, quality of food, cleanliness and smell. It’s important to talk to residents too.

You can compare providers using this online tool at My Aged Care.

The Royal Commission brought to light disturbing incidents of sexual abuse in residential care, estimated at fifty incidents per week. OPAN with the Older Women’s Network and Celebrate Ageing has launched the Ready to Listen to ensure such abuse is acknowledged, prevented and the perpetrators held accountable.

Craig Gear stresses the importance of restoring trust in the residential aged care system through a wide range of measures including improved transparency, quality, staffing and safety.

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