Help with entry to nursing home’s is known as Aged Care Navigation and it is a service I am proud to have brought to Townsville. Integrity Care NQ was developed out of recognising a need in North Queensland for a service to make this process easier for older people and their families. A face-to-face advisor who listens, is easy to talk to, takes time to explain and above all respects each client and has the capacity to understand their situation. Previous work experience in community services and as a volunteer highlighted to me that there were many older people living alone in our community, who were not only isolated from accessing care, but struggling for survival out of sight from many of our services. How on earth would they manage to get help when they can’t even leave their homes or deal with automated phone systems let alone the online world? How can their families deal with this arduous process when they have jobs to go to, children or grandchildren to look after or in many cases don’t even live locally?
I designed a service offering accessibility, flexibility and personalised case management. Over the past few years, I have embedded myself into the local aged care community, networking with other providers, involvement with community consultancy opportunities, attending meetings, discussion panels and keeping abreast of the constant industry changes. I have strong and valued relationships with local aged care providers placing me in a position to effectively advocate for my clients.
No one wants to be forced out of their home due to health to enter residential care. It marks a loss of independence, separation from partners, neighbours and the family home and is an unexpected and sometimes traumatic life change. With age, often comes illness and discomfort and for my clients 24/7 clinical care is critical. When care at home becomes unmanageable, then clinical care is necessary. With dedicated nursing care, wound care, supervision, nutrition, rest rest and socialisation many nursing home residents do very well in this setting. I tell my clients, you still have control over where you go and the circumstances around how this happens. “You are the captain of the ship, and I am your first mate!” Hold onto that control and direct me where and how you want this to happen, and I will make it happen.
We hear and read so much about residential aged care, the expense, impossibly confusing and arduous system and also hair-raising accounts of some past undesirable practice within the nursing home setting which has been addressed by the recent Royal Commission into Aged Care. This spotlight has ensured a dedicated push by facilities to meet and surpass the requirements for care. It is a very daunting prospect having to consider residential aged care for a loved one, often borne out of a health crisis. Families and carers buckle under the pressure of managing a higher level of care for their family member or loved one along with the emotional stress and trauma of having this decision forced upon them. A move into residential care involves a great deal of paperwork, financial consideration and liaison with health and allied health professionals ,public and private health organisations and of course Centrelink. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an independent third party who can take care of all of the practicalities and arrangements?
One typical scenario would often involve a traumatic health event resulting in a hospital admission. A meeting with hospital consultants, specialists and social workers would follow with the advice that the older person could not be discharged home and permanent residential care in a nursing home should be secured immediately. A list of local nursing homes and their contact details would be given and families or carers then advised to begin seeking placement. Leaving the hospital shell shocked, families and carers are left with a range of questions and a sense of panic, as they begin to contact facilities. Commonly they are to advised that certain paperwork is required and then they would be placed on a waitlist. Where do we start? How much is this going to cost? We’ve heard this costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, how can Mum afford this, she’s only on a pension? What would happen to the home she shares with dad? Will we need to sell? Which facility would provide the best care? How long will we need to wait? A respected associate of mine in the industry once said to me, the decisions around age care should not be made in the hospital car park, but so often are by desperate families.
Guilt, family discord, financial concern, stress and grief often make up the backdrop against which the process is embarked. To engage a knowledgeable third party for a stress-free admission to your preferred care facility and to take care of all of the arrangements and paperwork is worth every cent. It allows families and carers to focus on the emotional aspects of this huge life change for their loved one. Most importantly it quickly ensures they are receiving appropriate nursing care and support, safety and social interaction.