Attwood Marshall Lawyers Partner and Accredited Aged Care Professional Debbie Sage joins Robyn Hyland on Radio 4CRB to answer the most common questions asked by people when transitioning to aged care.
When people are ready to transition to aged care, there are a myriad of challenges they face. To help make the transition a little less daunting, we answer some of the most common questions asked by individuals when entering aged care.
1. Can I keep my regular doctor when I move into aged care?
It is important to maintain the doctor-patient relationship, especially as you age.
Many individuals have a longstanding connection with their regular doctor, built on trust and familiarity. Having such a relationship means your doctor also has a good understanding of your medical history and overall health.
The good news is, transitioning to a residential aged care facility does not mean you have to give up your general practitioner, or any other healthcare provider you may regularly see – unless, of course, you are relocating outside of your local area.
Your chosen aged care facility should be supportive in ensuring you receive care from your preferred medical practitioners.
While most facilities have resident doctors who visit the facility to provide their services in-house, it does not mean you are obligated to exclusively use their services. You have the autonomy to continue seeing your own trusted healthcare professionals.
2. Who determines the type of care plan I may need? Can my existing doctor do this?
Care plans are the combined work of all the teams involved in a resident’s care.
A care plan is put together after considering the goals and preferences of the resident, insights and notes from doctors and nurses, advice from physiotherapists and dietitians and more. It is a collective effort.
During the initial transition into aged care, a dedicated staff member will typically sit down with you or your representative to create a personalised plan together.
3. Who should I inform when making the move into aged care?
When moving into aged care, the best way to approach this question is to think about who you would inform when moving house.
A good place to start is by notifying:
- Your friends and family,
- Your neighbours,
- Your health professionals, including your doctor, dentist, pharmacist, and other allied health professionals you may regularly visit,
- Government departments and authorities such as the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Department of Human Services, ATO, Medicare, your local council, the Australian Electoral Commission, just to name a few,
- Your bank and insurance providers, including your private health insurance, your superannuation company, your bank, your accountant, and financial planner,
- Your gardener or lawn mowing person, cleaner, and/or other services that may attend your home such as meals on wheels,
- Any utilities services, such as water, electricity, phone and gas providers.
- Your home and internet providers including pay TV if you have a set top box,
- Any associations you may be a member of, such as loyalty programs like Flybuys, Qantas, Woolworths, etc.,
- Any mail order catalogues or newspapers you may be subscribed to,
- Any professionals you use regularly, including your lawyer!
4. What can I bring with me when moving into aged care?
Most aged care facilities will already have all of the usual furniture and furnishings you will need when moving in. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring any of your own personal items with you.
What you can bring will come down to the type of accommodation you are moving into, and the policies outlined by the aged care facility.
It is important to discuss what you can bring with you with your facility to get a good understanding of the guidelines and any restrictions they may have in place.
Something many people commonly bring with them is their favourite products. Whether it is your favourite shampoo, moisturisers, soap, etc. these can provide a familiar scent and go a long way to making the new environment feel homely.
Bringing some photo albums, picture frames, your favourite books, and small decorative keepsakes, can also help you make the space your own.
There may even be space for some of your small furniture items, like your favourite chair.
You can also choose to bring your own electronic items, such as a TV, computer, or radio. However, it is important to speak to the facility about this first as they will need an electrician to test and tag any approved electrical equipment you may be allowed to bring into the facility before it can be used.
5. How do I ensure my health preferences are respected?
There is always a lot of uncertainty when people move into aged care about how restrictive the care or living arrangements may be, and how responsive the facility will be to the resident’s wishes.
When it comes to treatment, particularly with more serious conditions as you age or your health declines, one of the best ways to outline your treatment preferences is to complete an Advance Health Directive.
This is something you don’t need to wait to do when moving into aged care; you can create an Advance Health Directive at any time, and it is recommended you do this at the same time as updating your Will and creating an Enduring Power of Attorney before moving into a care facility.
Although there is some overlap in the questions asked in an Advance Health Directive and an Enduring Power of Attorney, the purpose of these two documents is quite different.
An Advance Health Directive deals with a person’s specific medical treatment preferences and instructions for future healthcare decisions, particularly when they are in the final stages of their life.
An individual can also express their wishes about organ donation, cultural, religious or spiritual values and if these should be considered as part of their health care.
It gives the resident an opportunity to outline what is important to them and what would comfort them as they are nearing death, and also outline what people they would like, or not like, to be involved in decisions about their health care.
An estate planning lawyer is the best person to see to discuss creating an Advance Health Directive, and it must then be discussed with your doctor.
Once completed, you can upload the document to your My Health Record which allows healthcare providers to know your wishes if something unexpected happens and you cannot speak for yourself.
6. Can I continue to pursue my hobbies and interests when living in aged care?
Absolutely. If you are still able to move around independently, and maintain a level of physical fitness, a residential facility will respect your right to privacy and support you in continuing to engage in activities you love.
In addition, residential aged care homes typically provide a variety of social activities and events that residents can choose to participate in.
Each facility will be different, and this is always a good question to ask when you are exploring different options for your living arrangement.
Some facilities may offer exercise programs, games rooms, singing and musical activities, or arts and crafts.
For those who enjoy the outdoors, some facilities may have gardens and grounds for walking, or even gardening programs for residents with a green thumb.
Researching these aspects when considering different facilities can help you envision the lifestyle you want to maintain in the future.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers – supporting people at every stage of life
With in-depth knowledge of the aged care sector, we are one of the few law firms boasting two Accredited Aged Care Professionals in Partner Debbie Sage and Associate Larisa Kapur.
At Attwood Marshall Lawyers, we are deeply committed to the aged care sector and vigilantly track and assess the evolving changes that impact both aged care providers and the individuals they care for.
Transitioning to aged care involves complex financial and legal considerations, such as a comprehensive review of service agreements and the individual’s estate plan.
We want to guide clients through the complexities of the aged care sector, offering insights into the many options available and tapping the resources of our other specialist departments that can help with any overlapping matters that arise.
To explore your options, please contact our Aged Care and Wills and Estates Department Manager, Donna Tolley, on direct line 07 5506 8241, email firstname.lastname@example.org or free call 1800 621 071.
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