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Transitioning from Respite Care to Residential Care

What to Expect When You Transition to Aged Care

As you age, your mobility and cognition tend to decline. This often makes living independently more challenging. Activities of daily living, such as cooking and showering can become increasingly difficult and the time nears when you need extra assistance and support. There are many options available to older Australians when the time comes that they need extra help and support. Government-funded services are available that include respite, home care, and residential aged care.

Benefits of Residential Respite Care

Respite care is a great option for those caring for a loved one who need to take time out for themselves. If you need help and assistance every day, your carer might look into finding you a place in a residential aged care facility for a short stay. This stay can range from a few days up to 63 days per year. This type of respite’s referred to as residential respite care.

To access residential respite care you’ll need an assessment with the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). You can arrange this by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. Even if you meet the ACAT assessment criteria for residential respite care, challenges exist for your carer to find a suitable, available provider. My Aged Care has a provider search tool that your carer can access online, which can help them to find somewhere locally for you to stay.

People often access residential respite care as an option when they can no longer care for their loved ones, and need time to help them find a suitable place in a residential aged care facility.

Deciding when You Need Residential Care

When living independently is no longer a possibility, consider residential aged care options. This could be a result of deteriorating health or cognition, whereby you’re no longer able to manage activities of daily living on your own. While some people are able to continue living at home with some home support, others require ongoing support and care. It could be that you require ongoing nursing care, mobility support, or support with daily living.

If you’re able to do some advanced planning with family members under the advice of health professionals, the process of moving into residential aged care will be more efficient. Planning ahead reduces the likelihood of disagreements and conflict.

Understanding Residential Care

 There are several matters to consider when contemplating a move into residential aged care. Firstly, you must have an assessment with ACAT to determine your eligibility to access Residential Aged Care. This is a must.

Next on the list, you’ll need to find an aged care provider that suits you. You can search for aged care providers in your area at My Aged Care. Arguably the most important factors to consider include but aren’t limited to the following:

  • Does the accommodation meet your needs and do you like the accommodation available?
  • How much does the accommodation cost, and will you be able to afford it?
  • Do aged care homes offer the care and support that you currently require, and need in the future?
  • Is the facility in a location that suits you and your loved ones?
  • Consider whether staffing ratios are adequate.

What to Expect in a Nursing Home

Taking the above into consideration, ultimately you need to be happy with your decision. It might be the first time that you’ve experienced communal living whereby you share common spaces such as dining rooms and libraries.

Before you move in, double-check with the facility what personal belongings you can move in with. For example, some facilities will allow you to hang family portraits in your room, or bring your favourite recliner chair with you.

If you own a pet, find out as early as possible if you’re able to bring them with you. This can be a deal breaker for some people. If bringing your pet with you is a precondition, then you’ll need to find a facility that allows you to do so. Unfortunately, this will limit your choice of facilities.

elderly woman holding dog

Another important factor to consider when moving into a care facility is whether your family can come and go liberty. Furthermore, are there spaces that you can enjoy with your family such as a garden, a café or a common room? Also, remember that when you live in an aged care home you’re not a prisoner. Health permitting, you’re free to come and go as you please. You might find that you prefer outings with your family and friends.

Finally, aged care facilities typically offer an abundance of activities to get involved in. Don’t feel like you’re going to have to stare at four walls all the time. Many facilities offer outings, religious activities, games nights, exercise classes, and much more.

Transitioning into an aged care facility from respite doesn’t necessarily require rushing. Remember that residential respite care can last as long as 63 days, with a possibility of an extended 21 days upon application.

Take your time, do some planning, and find the facility that’s right for you.


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