5 things to know BEFORE moving into residential aged care

It’s a big decision, and it’s natural to hesitate for a moment and wonder what to do next. 
If you’re considering going into aged care, take some time to have a good think about how to proceed.

Here are the 5 things you should get your head around before you get going.

1. Wait a minute: should I even do this?

Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to be sure you’re not rushing into anything. Even if you feel it’s getting tricky for you to be at home, going into residential care is not necessarily the next step.
There are plenty of options for you to be supported to continue living at home. Don’t feel that you need to move into care because you can’t handle the shopping centre anymore, or the hydrangeas are getting out of control. Anything from gardening to meal deliveries, from help with showering to someone popping in for a cuppa or to take you to your book club meeting – there are services set up to provide you with what you need to stay living at home, and government subsidies available. Learn more about in-home care.

2. You can get care for your carer

If you’re considering residential care to take the burden off your carer, again: pause for a moment before making that decision. If your carer needs a break, there are options available – you don’t need to give up living at home so your carer can go surfing/binge- watch Netflix/take a trip to Bali. Or more seriously, if they need time to work or attend to their life admin.
Respite carers can come to look after your needs at home, or you can take a short break at a respite centre for a day or a weekend. You can even organise a short-term stay in an aged care home, whether this is to give your carer a break or to recover from an illness or accident – this can also be a good way for you test-drive residential care, before you take the plunge. Learn more about respite care options.

3. Get ready to fill out some forms

Like with any bureaucratic process involving the government, there is a pile of paperwork you’ll need to tackle if you decide to take the first steps towards residential care. The first item on the agenda is getting an Aged Care Assessment, where health professionals will ask you about and document your health needs. It can take about 12
weeks to finalise, so it’s a good idea to start this process as soon as you start to consider your care options.
The second is the Centrelink Income and Assets Assessment, which calculates what government assistance you’re entitled to (if any). It’s a whopper of a form, but don’t worry: you can get help with it. Learn more about assessments and subsidies.

4. It’s time to go house-hunting

Budget and location will likely play the starring role in your decision on which aged care home you want to go to. But keep in mind that there may be room to negotiate on the cost, and make sure you put some thought into what is important for you in your new home. Are there specific needs – language, cultural, religious – that you need to fill? What services would you like – craft activities, social events, outings, opportunities for physical exercise? What do you expect from your room (space, private bathroom, etc)?
Make a list of your must-haves – this is especially useful if you aren’t able to get out and about to inspect places yourself, and you need to ask a family member or friend to visit for you. Learn more about choosing the right aged care home.

5. Staking your claim

You’ll find that many residential homes have waiting lists. When a vacancy comes up, it will be allocated according to a number of factors, including urgency, time spent on the list, and care requirements.
You can put your name down at any number of places, but keep in mind that you’ll need to respond to a vacancy immediately when it’s offered, so only put your name down if you’re ready, and you’d be happy to live there. But it’s OK to change your mind – you can feel free not to accept an offer when it comes up, and there’s no penalty if you say no.
Learn more about getting into an aged care home.