As someone once said, ‘change is inevitable - except from a vending machine.’
Change in the aged care industry is ongoing, and with the Royal Commission recently sanctioned, more change is highly likely over the next few years.
If you’ve had a loved one move into an aged care facility of late, have you noticed the change?
Yes, the old-style motel-type accommodation has long gone, and been replaced with 5-star hotel accommodation, moving northwards, instead of horizontally.
Perhaps there is a ‘help yourself 24/7 café’ in the foyer? Have you noticed the rooms are possibly larger, and may even have a personal safe? Then there’s a large flat screen TV, connection to Foxtel, WIFI, plus an in-room fridge.
To cater for resident safety, often there are pressure matts at the bedside, sensor lights to monitor resident movement, security call alarms, along with the usual screening on doors, windows and patios.
Creature comforts within the communal lounges and surrounds might include libraries, a movie theatre, private dinning room, or roof top lounges that would not be out of place in a 5-star hotel. Many now have a chapel catering for multi-religious beliefs, or a hair dresser, day spa, centre pets like birds, cats or even dogs, as well as interactive screens projecting images of the world that are so real you are compelled to touch (I did!)
Paro Therapy is becoming popular in some facilities, especially with dementia residents, where life-like robotic babies, and animals like seals and puppies, are very popular.
Outside, and the gardens are manicured, and the fountains and walkways help add to the upmarket appeal, yet homely atmosphere. The inclusion of a Men’s Shed, has also proven to be a real winner, as have veggie plots.
Personally, I have spent significant time at aged care facilities with my own loved ones, and additionally, as a professional in this field - I can honestly say, I have appreciated the diverse new-age services and offerings.
Obviously, these modern inclusions have many benefits for the capable residents … but on the flipside, other residents may not have the ability or share the same enthusiasm.
So, if it doesn’t affect everyone equally, why have these new features … surely they add to the overall cost of the care?
Aside from benefiting residents able and wanting to make the most of every aspect of their new home, another train of thought, revolves around making the home environment appealing to the external families - presenting the premises in a chic yet warm and welcoming way, where everyone can equally feel comfortable. The intent here is to help encourage loved ones to return even more frequently, adding joy and comfort primarily, to the resident.
So, next time you question the fees for these extra services - or whatever the home might call them - consider the positive and holistic impact they may have on your loved one/s in their day-to-day activities, or even how your loved one/s will benefit from you being accommodated to visit more frequently. Care, comfort and happiness is simply priceless – my thoughts at least!
A resident’s privacy in aged care is rightfully to be respected and is very much legislated.
The Privacy Act, the Aged Care Act and the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities all contribute to the legal right to privacy for aged care residents.
Can there ever be a case for limiting that right or indeed abolishing it? The media and advocacy groups’ interest in elder abuse and particularly, in residential aged care, seems to be laying a foundation for that case.
Let’s take as an example, the push to introduce video cameras in residents’ rooms. On the face of it, it appears to be a reasonable response to tackling the so-called increasing incidence of abuse of residents in aged care.
But is it?
Trouble is, the groundswell of public outrage is quickly converting the venerable aged care facility to a place where private lives are being played out in public places and all for the sake of combatting a yet to be quantified problem, if the lack of reliable data on elder abuse is any guide.
In the USA, there are currently 8 States that have what are known as ‘Granny Cam Laws’. There are at least another 12 trying to introduce such laws. Effectively they provide that, with a resident’s, or their decision maker’s consent, a video camera may be installed in a resident’s room even if the facility objects.
There are currently no similar laws in Australia but how should a provider respond to a request (or demand) from a resident’s family to install a camera in a resident’s room. Can such a request be denied?
According to Brian Herd, Partner CRH Law, there may be other laws and regulations that may play a part in forming new guidelines for Australia and the Aged Care industry e.g. Privacy Legislation, Criminal Law and Surveillance Laws.
Residential Care Agreement & House Rules
An aged care facility is not a public place where anyone (including the public, residents & families & the media) can come, see and leave as they please. It is private property.
The right to enter and the conduct of someone in, a facility is governed and regulated by two major legal forces namely, the by-laws, house rules or whatever you call them for your facility and legislation.
Owners of private property such as an aged care facility can and do make rules about their property which are enforceable against a person breaching them. These self-made rules, should, if they are worth their salt, have some provisions governing who may enter the facility and regulating the conduct of people in the facility. They have the ‘force of law’ in the sense that they normally form part of a residential care agreement and, as such, the resident agrees they apply to them and their visitors.
These rules are the laws of behaviour in a facility which are enforceable unless, of course, they are inconsistent with legislation in which case, the relevant legislation rules.
As discussed above, the question of installing a camera in a resident’s room usually comes up in highly emotive circumstances involving allegations of abuse, neglect or ineffective care. What will your response be? Does the facility have a policy on how it will deal with such requests?
If they don’t have a policy; now is the time for them to develop one and not wait until the crisis management mode is reached.
If a facility does have a policy which does not allow cameras; it is important to ensure that the house rules and residential care agreement support that position.
My experience with Residential Aged Care
Having only recently experienced the passing of my last family member from a previous generation (Father in Law), I could not speak more highly of the staff and carers at the home where he spent his last moments.
The care, dedication and love shown by these “saints” with my Father in Law, during his stay of 8 months, but more particularly during his last breaths, on that final day, was extraordinary.
It was difficult to find the words of thanks when these same staff members, and the home dog, attended the funeral.
We have some truly special people in Residential Aged Care in this country.
Source: Brian Herd CRH Law
If you are an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) organising aged care for a loved one, you are about to wear a lot of hats for just one head – investigator, negotiater, administrator, advocate and chief financial officer! The journey you and your loved one are embarking on will be at times complex, confusing and occasionally headache-inducing. Hopefully you will emerge confident that your loved one is comfortable in their new home and able to afford it.
At Sage Care Advice, we help you to make informed financial decisions for aged care funding options. We understand that many of you have work and family commitments that still need to be met, and created an online service that you can use when you have the time – when work is done, spouses are fed and kids are in bed! We hope this service gives you confidence in the financial decisions you need to make, but also know that this journey is about more than just funding. The financial adviser behind Sage Care Advice has parents in aged care, we understand the emotional stress involved.