When moving into a residential aged care facility, most people are seeking a place which is comfortable, with attentive care teams, and which aligns with their values. But how do you know if the aged care provider you've chosen is the right fit for you?
There are a few things you need to consider. It's important to think about your unique situation, and what you want from your aged care provider. While researching, keep the advice below in mind.
MACG operates eight homes across Victoria. They have plenty of resources, and develop close interpersonal relationships with all residents.
Do they have a resident-focused care approach?
If an aged care home specifies a 'resident-focused' approach to providing care, this means they will work collaboratively with you or your loved one. Your needs will be placed at the forefront, and all decisions will be made from there, in partnership with your physician's care recommendations.
What does this look like?
- Having autonomy over which room you'd like to stay in, based on availability and affordability
- Enjoying meaningful activities which match your interests, not just your potential limitations
- Choosing when and what you'd like to eat (within a dietitian's recommendations)
- Going to bed when you want, and waking when you want
- Choosing what you'd like to do throughout the day
With resident-focused care, care teams and residents are equals. The goal is to empower you and your care team to become partners on this journey.
Out of many other things to consider, these are the most prominent. If you're in pain, you want to know there is an effective pain management plan they can enact.
If you have lots of friends and family, you want to know how they can be involved in helping you make decisions about your care. Each of the below will indicate the home's capacity for compassionate, effective, and efficient care.
What are the staffing ratios?
In Australia, there are no minimum staff or skill ratios. So when you're touring a potential home, make sure you check how many support workers are rostered on. Watch their interactions with residents. Do they look flustered? In a hurry? Are they being kind to each resident?
Are they culturally aware and sensitive to the needs of others?
It's important to feel safe to express yourself if you have different cultural or spiritual beliefs. And, if English is your second language, you want to make sure there are bilingual care team members who you can talk with. Otherwise, you might end up feeling isolated.
Aged care homes like MACG's Northern Gardens and Casey Manor specialise in providing culturally diverse teams. Many of the support workers there speak another language fluently, and the residents feel happy and connected to their community.
Are they transparent with their rights and responsibilities to you or your loved one?
Make sure you know what rights you or your loved one have when receiving care. Do you feel the person from the aged care home has answered you honestly? Are they being transparent about their rights and responsibilities in caring for your loved one?
Do they have a care approach for residents with dementia?
If your loved one has dementia, you'll want to make sure the home you're enquiring about has the ability and qualified staff to provide full support. Dementia can affect people beyond the physical — it can make those diagnosed feel low self esteem, and isolated. So, far beyond providing dementia-specific areas, an aged care home should also have a dedicated lifestyle program to help keep your loved ones connected. This can include activities like:
- Art therapy
- Sensory programs
- Movement programs
Create a checklist, then a shortlist
Create a checklist of things to notice as you inspect a new home. This could include basics like the size of the home and whether it feels welcoming, to more specific needs like how well they deal with pain management or dementia care. This should also include basic information like:
- Does the home feel warm and inviting?
- Are the bedroom and living areas spacious?
- Do the residents look happy?
- What kind of activity is happening in the common areas and outside?
- Did you feel at home as you explored?
- Was the care team welcoming, and did you feel comfortable asking them questions?
Then, as you tour aged care homes, searching for the right fit, create a shortlist of homes which fit the checklist. At the end of the day, you can compare notes based on how many boxes each one ticked off. This is a great way to keep track of homes, especially since (much like house inspections) touring aged care homes can be overwhelming.
Finally, compare your findings and narrow down your choices to the top two or three homes. These should be the ones you visit again, this time with your loved one, to make the final decision.
Who to choose?
Choosing an aged care home can feel daunting, but following these simple steps will help make the process easier. And remember, if you're not sure where to start, reach out to an aged care professional for help. They'll be more than happy to guide you through the process.
When it comes to choosing an aged care home, there are plenty of great providers, such as MACG. MACG has a residents-focused approach to care, and smaller homes with higher staffing ratios.