The main concerns for anyone considering aged care for their parents are usually the quality of care they will receive in the home and whether they’ll be able to afford it. There’s also a question of value for money, and how you structure your finances to get there. You could select an aged care facility that offers exactly the same level of care as another and find that your financial situation is very different depending on which one you choose and how you structure it.
Quality of care is paramount
The quality of care your parent receives is of course paramount. While you can’t check out every single aged care facility, there are some questions you can ask to understand the quality of care they provide:
- How big is the home?
- How many registered nurses are on per shift?
- What’s the staff-to-client ratio like?
- Has the home faced a sanction?
- If they have been sanctioned for breaching the law, what was the cause of that sanction?
- How else has the home been impacted by the Royal Commission
Ideally, you should approach the facilities you’d prefer and have a chat to the staff. Do a tour, if they offer them. No one’s going to stop you going up to the nearest resident sitting on the couch and asking them what it’s like.
Many providers are focused on providing highly nutritious meals, with fruit and vegetables delivered daily. Some are particularly good, with fresh food cooked by a chef. The celebrated chef Maggie Beer is pushing for a training course for chefs in nursing homes as she recognises that residents want flavour. They don’t want a piece of white bread with butter – they want nutritious, healthy food that they’ve grown up with. People want to live the life they were living previously. So sit there and have a meal, taste the food for yourself and see what it’s like.
For the family making the decision, getting a first-hand idea of the home, chatting to residents and spending some time there is one way to know whether it’ll be a good fit.
Value for money
There is often a lot of concern around how an individual, or their family, is going to afford aged care. This is a question that comes up a lot. And the unspoken concern that many people have is that their parents’ aged care will affect their inheritance – and it can. That’s why it’s important to get advice so you know where you stand.
I’ve seen clients make costly errors when they haven’t sought advice and they could have structured things better to maintain their capital base and ensure it wasn’t eroded by aged care. Most parents want to make sure there is something left for their children. They don’t want their whole life’s work to be eaten up by aged care – and their children often feel just as strongly about their inheritance being maintained. That’s why I think it’s important to get advice early to know where you stand. This doesn’t just mean advice at the time your parent is going into care, but encouraging your parents to think about the type of home they want to go into and how they will structure it much earlier on. It’s important to get advice on several care options and how they are going to impact the family legacy in the longer term well before care is needed.
It can be easy to lose a lot of money in the aged care system. Yet with good planning, you can ensure that your parents receive the best care possible without losing their legacy.
Martin Sherwood is an Executive Advisor at Viridian Advisory
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