The day had unfortunately arrived. I had been dreading having to put Mum and Dad in a rest home, but I knew that they could no longer manage on their own and I couldn’t bring myself to separate them, age care for couples was my only option. The thought of putting my parents in an aged care facility made me feel ill. They had cared for me for 20 years until I moved out of their home and been fantastic grandparents to my own children. Surely, I owed it to them to take care of them rather than sending them off to a home? But the reality is; taking care of an elderly person is much different from that of a child.
Once I had over come the initial feelings of guilt and sadness, I realised that I had a multitude of decisions to make about finding the right place to suit their needs and comfort level. But perhaps the biggest issue was, finding an aged care facility that had the capacity to allow them to live as a couple. Most aged care facilities cater for singles and rooms are often small and pokey but no aged care for couples. Keeping Mum and Dad together in an aged care for couples was of utmost importance despite their differing health care needs.
Luckily I found a facility that folds aged care into resort styled living, which means that they can still be together and have privacy, while having access to care 24/7 in their own suite. Large suites with double rooms mean they can have quality of life and feel like they are still have a sense of home. This gave me unprecedented reassurance and piece of mind, as there was a facility that considered aged care for couples.
While gathering information, I learned that there are few aged care facilities that offer this lifestyle in Australia, which made it particularly tough when I was looking for a place.
So how did I go about finding the right facility for my parents? “Well, first of all I considered location; it had to be within close proximity to family so that we could all visit frequently.” Secondly, assessing the level of care needed, and in a lot of cases (as with mine) couples need different levels of care, therefore finding a facility that can provide those levels of care is important. An assessment from an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) can also help determine what level of care is needed. I also toured the facility so that I could gauge the staff, surroundings, food and overall atmosphere. Observing staff interactions with residents and the level of respect they received was key to my decision. Finally and most importantly references and accreditations; facility staff may be happy to provide names of family members and/or residents so that you can ask them about the care provided in the facility. Accreditation reports are also available on the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation website http://www.accreditation.org.au/
I am happy to report that my parents are doing just fine, and I hope this article provides a little comfort to those of you who are faced with this decision. It is not easy, but with the right information, you can make an informed decision and ensure the comfort of your loved ones.
Aged Care Connect Pty Ltd. Choosing and Evaluating an Aged Care Home. Residential Aged Care Placement Services. Retrieved from http://www.agedcareconnect.com.au/findingrighthome.php
*Palm Lake respects privacy of the stories and letters provided to us. Therefore, these stories are written as fictional letters based on real life encounters.