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Living with Dementia – Choosing an Aged Care Home

Choosing an aged care home isn’t the only option when you’re living with dementia. Care and support at home is also a possibility.

It’s common to worry that you’ll have to leave your family home and lose all of your independence if you’re living with dementia. More often than not, this isn’t the case for many people. It’s becoming increasingly common for people who have a diagnosis of dementia to live at home for as long as they’re able to do so.

The government offers funding to eligible people with dementia, to support them to live at home if they’re able to. For further information on Living with Dementia: In home care contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

Deciding to Move to an aged care home

For some people living with dementia, the time comes when your care needs increase. When this occurs, the decision to move out of the family home and transition into an aged care home is big for people living with dementia and their family members. At the end of the day, if you decide to move into an aged care home, there’s support available.

For some people, their family, friends, and G.P. are a great source of support. For others, other support options are available. The Older Persons Advocacy Network(OPAN) has advocates available, who’ll assist you to understand and explore your available options. They’re there to support you and advocate for you.

If an advocate isn’t what you’re looking for, but purposely need help to find an aged care home, then the staff at My Aged Care can help you. They’ll help you to look for aged care homes that specifically meet your current and then future needs.

Choosing an aged care home

Keeping in mind that dementia is a slow and progressive disease that changes overtime, the importance of looking at both current and future needs when choosing an aged care home is high.

Location

Some of the priorities to consider when choosing a residential aged care facility include making sure that the location is suitable for you, and that your loved ones will be in close enough proximity to visit you.

Costs

Furthermore, be sure to find out about all of the costs involved from the aged care home. These costs includes the following:

  • A basic daily fee
  • A means tested care fee
  • Accommodation payments
  • Additional fees charged by the provider (for services not included as standard)

Also, be sure to factor in other costs such as moving costs.

nurse comforting woman in wheelchair

Environment

Another part of research to do when choosing an aged care home is to inspect the facility and its surroundings. Some qualities to look for include the following:

  • Are the surroundings clean and odour free?
  • Is the facility bright and is there adequate lighting for safety?
  • Are there areas for you and your loved one to enjoy while visiting, other than the room/unit?
  • Look at the layout. Is it hospital looking with long corridors or are there smaller living environments? This may impact on how comfortable and secure a person living with dementia feels.
  • Are there single and/ or shared rooms? Would you or your loved one benefit from a shared room for companionship?
  • Ask if you can personalise the room with items from home such as family photos or paintings? This can make the surroundings feel more familiar.
  • Is the facility secure and are there areas where your loved one can move around freely and independently?

Meeting current and future needs

What’s more, be sure to ask many questions to determine whether the aged care home will meet your current and future needs, or that of a loved one:

  • If the facility and its staff can meet your current needs, are there resources to meet your needs in the future when your symptoms progress?
  • How does the facility manage behaviours such as aggressive behaviour? And will be made to move if you demonstrate some adverse behaviours at times?
  • Do the staff have specific dementia care training and where’s the training from? For example, is there appropriately trained staff to assist if you if you become unsettled or anxious?
  • Is the facility or the wing dementia-specific? And if so, what’s that mean to them? Most dementia-specific facilities have activities to help keep people with dementia engaged.
  • Can you go outside during the day, and what activities do they offer for you to participate in?

hands holding a walking stick

Meeting your care needs

If at some stage you move into a dementia-specific unit at the aged care home that you choose, ask to have a tour to see if it feels homely and if there’s an appealing outdoor area.

Is there a regular G.P. that you’ll have access too, as well as clinical nurse managers and specialist doctors who all specialise in Dementia Care? If so, what’s their focus? Some areas of care to consider for individuals living with dementia include the following:

  • symptom reduction
  • respecting dignity
  • improving comfort levels
  • reducing suffering

Always ask what the nurse to resident ratio is and carer to resident ratio is as well. It’s important that there’s trained, expert staff, but it’s just as important to have enough staff to meet your care needs. It’s also important that there’s registered nursing staff on at all times of the day.

Furthermore, is there a formal communication strategy at the aged care facility? That includes frequent communication between you, the facility, your health care team and your loved ones, in order to best meet your care needs and goals?

Transition Phase

Finally, nobody at the facility knows you better than yourself and your loved ones. Don’t be afraid to teach the staff about yours or your loved ones likes and dislikes. If you’ve specific strategies in place that work effectively to help your loved one, be sure to let the facility know. For example, is there a certain routine utilised, in order to aid your loved one when they’re feeling anxious?

Let the facility know what yours or your loved ones regular, daily routine is. This will help to make the transition to the care facility smoother. For example, are there set times of day that tasks get done, or do you always play soft music while you’re falling asleep?

As a final point, if you or your loved one decide to move into an aged care facility and issues arise, be sure to tell somebody. Talking through your concerns with family, friends, your G.P. or the facility’s staff as soon as possible will help to reach a resolution.


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