Tag: residential aged care

A view on retirement villages

An independent view on retirement villages

Over the past few weeks, articles about retirement villages have received a lot of press and most of it was unfavourable.  As independent advisers, we have been asked on numerous occasions whether we think the articles have been fair.  So here is what we think.

Social isolation is the single biggest issue for our ageing population.   Retirement villages go a long way towards solving that issue for its residents.  The residents are part of a community, they probably get some supports (like general maintenance of the common areas and some social activities) and they feel safe.  The residents are also able to continue to live independently.  These things are priceless and can make for a happy old age.

Independent living

Retirement villages are usually independent living, so stories about how a person was left in their unit after a medical event and not found for several days can happen because the resident chose to remain independent.  Whilst many retirement villages are equipped with emergency all buttons, sometimes things happen which mean that button cannot be activated.  Some retirement villages are using technology to detect these events without the need to activate a call button.

It does become confusing because some retirement villages offer care services which the resident generally has to agree to and pay for additionally.  In that case, if the resident had agreed to those care services and they had not been delivered,  it would wrong for a person to be left undetected for a period of time.

Retirement Villages can be very expensive

Retirement village agreements are contract based so the residents get what the contract says they will get and the resident pays what the contract says they will pay.  Most retirement village contracts do require payment of a deferred management fee and other costs when the resident leaves and it is not unusual in our experience for a resident to pay around 40% to 50% of the amount the the unit sells for and often the resident is paying outgoings and monthly fees for quite a while after they have left the village.  In our experience, retirement village units are generally less expensive to acquire than a similar freehold property in the same geographic location but, in our experience, do not appreciate as rapidly as other property.  There is no doubt they are not a sound financial investment.   They are a lifestyle investment.

Understand what you are buying

In terms of the resident entitlements, residents should look closely at the agreement (and get legal advice) about what exactly they are entitled to under the contract.  The contract may specify social events or services and it is important to understand what exactly the village is agreeing to provide.  The resident is not entitled to anything other than what is in the agreement (so, for example, if the resident is told there are free drinks for residents every Friday night, that might not be in the contract and, if it does say that in the contract, there is probably another clause that says that can change). Contracts will not say you will have a fabulous time in our village because of course that cannot be guaranteed. As residents usually go to a village for the community, it is really important that potential residents ensure they will fit in with the community before they move in.  It will not work if everyone else in the village speaks Swahili and you do not.  Most villages will give you an opportunity to meet other residents before signing up and we think that is one of the most important things to do before committing.  This can be a risk if the unit is being sold off the plan.

So, in summary, living in a retirement village can be great and might be the right choice for you.  They are expensive and you need to understand what you are getting and what you will be paying.  You should get legal advice before you sign the contract.  If you would like expert legal advice, call us on 1800 744 676.

Until next time

Sara and Margaret


How to move into residential aged care

What do you need to do to move into residential aged care?

If you are thinking about moving into residential aged care, here is what you need to do:

  • Obtain an ACAS/ACAT assessment. This assessment is done by the government, usually in your home or in hospital and is free.  You will need to have approval for permanent residential care in the assessment (you can also receive approval for respite care and home care unless you are already in hospital and need to go straight to residential care).  To obtain an assessment, go to myagedcare.gov.au
  • Understand the costs of aged care and work out what you can afford when looking for a place. Information is available on myagedcare.gov.au or on our FAQ page.  We strongly recommend that you seek assistance with working out the costs as they are complicated and there may be ways to optimise the cost of aged care. Are you a couple seeking aged care residential facility together?
  • Complete the Centrelink assessment form for aged care.  Whilst you do not have to complete the form and filling in the form may not be worth the effort if you are very wealthy, most aged care facilities will ask you to do it.  If you want to know more about whether you have to fill in the form or not, read our earlier article here.
  • Decide where you wish to be located.  Narrowing the search geographically will save a lot of time.  We always suggest it should be close to the person who is most likely to visit rather than mid way between family members.
  • Search for aged care residential facilities in the chosen area. That can be done by a simple google search or you can use the ‘Find a service’ tab on myagedcare.gov.au.  Create a shortlist from that search.
  • Call the facility and ask whether they have vacancies or if not whether they have a waiting list.  If you are satisfied that they will have a vacancy when you need it, book a tour.  Tours are the only way to decide whether the facility suits you. As it will be your home, it is important that you make sure you can live there.
  • Fill out application forms for the facilities you are interested in.
  • When there is a vacancy – move in!!! You usually have to move in quickly after you are offered a room so be prepared to move on short notice.  You do not need ot take much with you when you first arrive.  You can always sort out what you want bring at a later time when things have settled.

If you need help on any of this, including the financial side of aged care, call us on 1800 744 676 or email us at info@signpostlms.com.au.

Until next time

Sara and Margaret

Find out more about Signpost Aged Care Services here

5 tips for finding residential aged care for couples

Residential Aged Care for Couples

Aged Care Residential Facilities

Residential aged care for couples can be tricky and expensive and usually you will be looking for your Mum and Dad.  It can be hard to find 2 spots available at the same time or the rooms look too small for both members of a couple to live in.  It is not unusual for a facility to advertise ‘couple rooms’ but what does this mean and what should you look out for?  Here are 5 tips to help you on the journey.  Just a note that this article is specific to Aged Care Residential Facilities (ACRF’s) which are facilities that are accredited and subsidised by the Federal Government.  There are alternatives to ACRF’s for older couples.  If you want to find out more about those, read our earlier article on Aged Care Housing Options.

5 tips for finding residential aged care for couples

  1. Each member of a couple needs to pay separately for their daily costs (comprised of basic daily fee, means tested care fee and any additional or extra fees that the facility is charging).  This can be expensive as the daily charges are a minimum of around $17,750 per year currently.  Whilst that might seem like a lot, apart from the extra or additional fees, the amounts are means tested and the minimum amount of around $17,750  is pegged at 85% of the full pension.  When pensioners go into aged care, they are separately assessed for a single pension even if they are a couple and both going into care. This means that it is affordable but watch out for the extra or additional fees because they may make it unaffordable.
  2. Whilst moving into an ACRF might seem like severe downsizing, particularly for a couple, just remember that there are lots of common areas where the resident can enjoy space.  Think of it as a shared house rather than just a room.
  3. ‘Couple rooms’ are usually shared rooms meaning a room with 2 beds, often separated with a curtain similar to a hospital ward.  When one member of the couple passes away, the other bed in the room might be shared by someone else.  Make sure you have discussed  with the ACRF what will happen when one member of a couple passes away.  Will the survivor move to another room and, if so, how much will that cost?
  4. Don’t assume that because a couple have been sleeping in the same room for the past 60 years that they want to continue to do so.  Usually one member of a couple is less well than the other and has disturbed sleeping patterns which keeps the other partner awake.   We were recently told by a very wise facility manager that in her experience, for most couples, at least one member of the couple is really happy to be able to spend the days with a spouse but sleep alone comforted by the fact that someone else is there to tend to the spouse overnight.
  5. Each member of a couple will have to pay a separate Accommodation Payment (bond or RAD) unless they are supported.  How do aged care bonds work is covered in our post just follow the link. To find out whether or not a person is ‘supported’, see our earlier article on ‘How do you afford aged care if you are a pensioner with no assets.  If they are supported, the timing of moving into aged care can be really important and it could be beneficial to move them in separately, even a day apart, to be able to access additional funding for one member of the couple.

If you need help, call us on 1800 744 676

Call 1800 744 676 for an obligation free chat with one of our expert consultants if you want to find out more.

Until next time

Sara and Margaret


What is aged care placement?

What is aged care placement?

When an elderly person has been hospitalised as a result of a trauma, families are often told by the hospital staff or doctor that their loved one cannot go home and needs to move into a nursing home.  The family is commonly told that they have a limited period of time (often just a number of days) to find a suitable aged care facility.

Unless the elderly person or family has planned for this event, the ensuing process of finding an aged care facility with a vacancy, deciding whether it is suitable, understanding the costs and working out how to pay for the home is overwhelming.

The aged care system is complex and most people find it difficult to get their head around it in a short period of time.

Families who have recently placed another loved one in care, the system is undergoing significant change and things are probably not the same as last time. This leaves the family open to making mistakes and not understanding the full ramifications of the decision that has been made and not getting the best outcome for their loved one.

Why should I use aged care placement consultants?

Aged care placement is a service that helps people find a suitable aged care facility for their loved one.  Aged care placement services are usually experts at navigating the minefield of aged care and understand how the system works and how to get the optimum result for your loved one.

Did you know you can negotiate with an aged care residential facility? Negotiating the cost in an excellent reason to use an aged care placement consultant. As they are repeat referrers, to many aged care residential facilities and they can often negotiate a better deal.  There are a growing number of aged care placement services in Australia and what you get for the service differs amongst providers.

What does an aged care placement service provide?

At a minimum, an aged care placement service will provide you with a shortlist of potential homes in your preferred area, help you understand the process and the costs of aged care and assist with the paperwork for entry into a facility.  Others provide a more expansive service; for example, they may negotiate the costs with the provider, arrange tours of the selected facilities, help you with the application paperwork for the facility, assist you with the Centrelink paperwork and/or provide you with legal and/or financial advice.  Some services are combined with financial planners.  Some have been around for a long time and some are new players with staff who have often had experience in aged care.

Aged care placement services will usually be able to help you find the right solution in the very short time allowed and assist you to get the best outcome both financially and emotionally because they do it regularly.  The price for the service varies from around $1500 to around $2500 depending on what services you receive.  Families often receive at least that amount in benefits from using the service either through negotiation of costs or structuring of arrangements.

Placement services are well worth considering if you or your loved one need to find an aged care facility.  At Signpost Aged Care Services, we offer a comprehensive placement service so if you or someone you know is struggling to find a suitable place for a loved one, call us for help on 1800 744 676.

Until next time
Sara and Margaret

Aged care housing | Understanding the different options when looking at housing for the aged

Aged care housing options

Retirement village, nursing home or somewhere else that provides care and does not charge an ingoing fee?  What is the difference and how do you tell them apart?  Which one is more suitable for you or your parent?  This article helps you to understand the options.

Aged Care Residential Facility (nursing home)

This is a facility regulated under the Aged Care Act (Commonwealth) to provide care for the elderly.  An elderly person needs an ACAS (Aged Care Assessment) to become a resident of an ACRF (Aged Care Residential Facility).  The care in an ACRF is subsidised by the Federal Government. Accommodation Payments (formerly known as bonds) must be paid for residing in an ACRF unless the resident does not have sufficient assets to pay an accommodation payment. This option can be good for people who are unable to care for themselves at home.

A Retirement Village

These are units or apartments regulated under State legislation.  Whilst they can be an excellent option for older people, they are not accredited aged care providers.  They may have on site serviced apartments or bring in services to assist elderly residents.  Some retirement villages are part of a complex which includes an ACRF and some have affiliations with ACRF’s that will accept residents preferentially.  This option can be good for people who are able to care for themselves (even if they might need a little help) or those who are lonely or socially isolated.

Supported Residential Service (SRS)

This is a residential service that provides support and care for residents.  They are not accredited aged care providers although many have nursing staff and other qualified care staff on site.  They are regulated by State Governments.  Not all States have them.  The cost of care is not subsidised by the government although pensioners may receive rental assistance when staying at an SRS.  This option can be good for people who need some assistance with daily living or short term care.

Is your parent seeking home help to stay independent? View our blog post

4 Tips On Supported Residential Service Options

Each of these options could be appropriate  and there are good and not so good providers of each type of accommodation.  It is important to understand what a place is so that you know what a resident can expect both financially and in terms of the care that is provided. The distinction is confusing and it is often very hard to tell which is which.  So how do you tell?  Here are some tips.

  1. If there is a fully functional kitchen in the unit, it is not an ACRF.  It is probably a retirement village;
  2. If the facility is advertised as not requiring an accommodation payment (bond) it is probably an SRS (although be aware that some SRS’s do have a bond and if they do, it is not guaranteed by the Federal Government but a bond in an ACRF is guaranteed by the Federal Government meaning that you are certain to get it back if the ACRF gets into financial difficulty);
  3. Go onto the government website,  www.myagedcare.gov.au and search for the facility under ‘Find a Service’ then ‘Aged Care homes’.  If it is not listed, then it is not an ACRF but make sure you get the name correct; or
  4. Ask the facility what it is.  They will tell you if you ask.  You just have to know what they mean when they give you the answer!!

Until next week

Sara and Margaret

Find out more at www.signpostlms.com.au or ask us at info@signpostlms.com.au

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