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This National Families Week, Goodwin shares their comprehensive guide for families considering aged care for a loved one.
Moving your parents into aged care is never easy—but how do you even begin the process?
From choosing a location to making sure they’ll feel happy, safe, and dignified in their new community, it almost feels like there’s too much to consider. And the last thing you want is to leave it to the last minute.
That’s where Goodwin comes in. Just in time for National Families Week, they’ve shared their knowledge to create the ultimate six-step guide for families considering aged care for a loved one—explaining each step, from choosing what type of care to making sure the right amenities are available, so your loved ones continue to have an exceptional lifestyle.
With a long-standing legacy in Canberra, high-quality dining, therapy dogs, homely facilities, and award-winning accommodation available for Goodwin residents, you can be assured they know what they’re talking about.
Step 1: Decide on the type of care that is right for your loved one
It might seem like the simplest advice but making a cup of tea and sitting down to decide on what type of care is right for your loved one is the most important step in this journey. And with three different choices available, it’s easy to understand why it can be confusing. To get you started, Goodwin has outlined the different kinds of care available.
A helping hand so your loved one can stay in the comfort of their own home for longer, home care offers tailored services that include helping with a range of tasks both in the home and out in the community (think assistance with shopping, transport, nurse visits, or just a little bit of extra company), allowing your loved one to continue living in the home they love.
Perfect for when you want to enjoy the best of what life has to offer without the daily demands of home maintenance, retirement living offers a completely independent lifestyle within a supportive and welcoming village community. Residents live independently, but there’s support available should you need it.
Need an example? Goodwin Village Crace offers stunning apartments, townhouses, and penthouses that are built to adaptable housing codes and can support your loved one’s needs as they change with age. Located close to shopping centers, exciting dining options, public transport, and medical centers, this option offers an exceptional quality of life.
Residential aged care
A ‘new generation’ of nursing homes, residential aged care offers the best of industry-leading care as well as being excellent places to live—and Goodwin’s newly developed residential care facility nestled in the leafy suburb of Farrer is the perfect example.
George Sautelle House not only offers luxurious accommodation, but it also has 24/7 onsite, on-staff nurses (a service that is not mandated in the ACT) as well as specialist dementia care, professional chefs, a team of activity staff, and daily wellness sessions. It’s perfect for when your loved one wants to continue living a high quality of life in their later years when they may need a little more support.
Step 2: Do your research
So you’ve finished your cup of tea and decided on the best kind of care for your family member. Now what? The next step is to take your time and research, research, research!
According to Goodwin Customer Service Liaison Mel Woolf, the best thing for families to do is start their research early—and don’t wait for an emergency situation to get the ball rolling.
“When the transition to aged care is triggered by an emergency situation, loved ones can feel stressed if they have to find somewhere for their family member to live when they’d rather be there supporting them through whatever’s happening she explains.
For those with the luxury of time on their hands, Mel recommends you utilize it and visit some aged care facilities if you can see the need on the horizon.
“I recommend booking a tour of a few aged care facilities available in your area. You might have your heart set on somewhere and then when you go into it, you absolutely hate the building, you don’t like the vibe or the energy.”
While the quality of care and lifestyle factors are important to consider (hello close proximity to family), for Mel one of the most crucial things to consider when looking at aged care is not only how the staff treat their residents, but how they treat family members and each other.
“It all plays into each other,” she explains. “If you don’t like what you see, you’re not going to be happy there. And if you’re looking on behalf of someone, they’re not going to be happy to be there because they can see you’re not happy.”
This is where word of mouth is hugely important. Check in with your friends and discuss their experiences. Checking up on the history and legacy of the facilities are great ways to gain some insight into the culture and community—including the dining options, activities, and special interest groups.
Step 3: Book your consultation and site tour
You know what they say—you’ve got to see it to believe it—and that’s why booking a consultation and site tour should be the next step on your to-do list. But before you walk through the front door, you (and your loved one) need to forget about the stereotypes surrounding aged care and go in with an open mind.
“There are a lot of the older generations coming in now—so those born in the ‘30s. And I’m still getting a few born in the ‘20s coming through,” says Mel.
“They remember what nursing homes were like in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s and they are very different now to what they were then….It’s about breaking that stereotype of white walls, white floors, and that sterile environment.”
While Customer Service Liaisons like Mel are there to help people navigate coming into residential aged care—including showing them around the complex and just generally being a fount of knowledge—booking a consultation is one of the fastest ways to learn everything you want (and need) to know about the facility.
It’s also where you can meet people like Tamra MacLeod, the General Manager of Clinical Services at Goodwin. Using her skills, experience, and knowledge as a nurse practitioner, she makes sure that residents receive the care and services that they deserve.
“It’s really about each individual’s needs, goals, and preferences, and whatever they want their focus on,” she says.
“We do a lot of assessments, we’ve got quite a robust system, which is a partnership with the person and their family or whoever they’d like to be involved with. And it’s an ongoing process,”
There to answer questions like, ‘Can my family come to visit me? Will I be able to make any of my own choices? Will I be able to continue to do the things that I already do in the community?’, as well as supporting the dignity of residents, Tamra says the answers are simple.
“The answer to that is, yes, you are, you can continue your life. We are just another part of it. We really aim to be home, rather than home-like,” says Tamra.
Step 4: Prepare for your consultation
As the point of contact for Goodwin clients, Mel recommends making a list before your consultation so you can leave feeling confident you have all the information you need.
“I’ll start my meetings when I’m with people by asking ‘is there anything you want to ask me straight off the bat, anything that keeps you up at night, anything you worry about? It can be the dumbest thing, it can be the serious thing, whatever.’ And that usually breaks the ice.” Says Mel.
“I’ve had some families come in with five pages of questions and I’ve had others with little post-it notes. It just depends, and everyone’s different.”
While each resident has unique needs and desires that play an important role in making their new life as comfortable as possible, there’s always one question that can cause families concern and anxiety: how much will aged care cost?
Mel may not have experience as a financial advisor, but she does have some advice for clients that need help making a budget.
“That is a very hard question to answer because everyone’s assessed individually because everyone has different financial circumstances,” she explains. “So, I would guide people to the fee estimator on the My Aged Care website and also send them to Centrelink.”
“If they’re a Centrelink, or Department of Veterans Affairs customer, they can access their financial information services team. And I also suggest that they speak to a financial adviser who specialises in aged care as well.”
From there—if a location like George Sautelle House is the perfect place for your loved one—the next step is pulling together all the paperwork, submitting an application, and getting them ready to start their next adventure.
“Once everyone’s happy, we would do all the final paperwork that needs to be completed and start preparing for them to move in,” says Mel.
“The families have that opportunity to start decorating the rooms ready to go so when they come in, it already feels like home. Then, on moving day, they’ve got that opportunity to be with their family, start finessing the details of the room, and meeting everyone.”
Step 5: Investigate the amenities and perks
Still worried that your loved one won’t enjoy their new lifestyle? From nature reserves and natural beauty to billiards rooms and cinemas, discovering what amenities are available is the perfect way to ensure your loved one’s interests and passions are catered for.
Goodwin’s Leisure and Lifestyle Manager Abbie Dawson knows the most important aspect of the amenities is to create an environment residents love to be in, with fun, engaging, and meaningful activities and events.
“My role is to guide the team that runs the fun stuff, but also look deeper into how else we can get more engagement and purpose for the residents living here,” she explains.
“I try to break the stigma and make sure people realise that age care is not something that you walk into and everyone suddenly does everything for you. It’s about educating and informing staff about how to change their practices a little bit to meet the leisure and lifestyle needs of residents, not just the clinical needs,”
“If you’ve lived at home by yourself, and you suddenly go to somewhere where you’re living with 20 people and having to go to activities with that many people, it’s confronting,” says Abbie.
“We don’t force people to go out to these things, it’s just an invitation that we offer warmly. And then if they decline, it’s about how we can get them to the stage where they are able to participate?… It’s making sure our activities meet everyone’s needs, including people that have speech impairments, or cognition impairments, or hearing impairments.”
And while getting out and about will help your loved one feel included in the community, the social enjoyment of dining is just as important—as is the nutritional value and quality standards of the food.
Working for six weeks under Gordon Ramsay in London and as an executive sous chef at Parliament House, the Head Chef of George Sautelle House—Sandeep Vaid—is all about changing the stigma around age care food and bringing fine dining (and a regular happy hour) to the table.
“I’m a big believer in eating with your eyes, so if food is appetising, you’re looking good. Even though you’re not feeling that hungry, you might still dig in and eat, and that’s really important for our residents,” he says.
“It has to be flavourful. And if it’s good enough for us to eat, it’s good enough for everyone else to eat…residents need to enjoy every bit of their lives.”
Designed by a committee of nutritionists, aged care experts, and the residents themselves, the seasonal menus at Goodwin (which include meals like lamb madras with steamed rice and roast pork with crackling, apple sauce, and gravy) are designed to be enjoyed while bringing a high-class element to the dining experience. But of course, Sandeep will always accept special requests.
Step 6: Remember: you’ve got this
After learning everything you can about age care options, there’s one thing you and your loved one need to keep in mind: there’s no right or wrong way to feel. It can be a confusing and emotional time, but it doesn’t have to be.
“As I said to my Nana when she went into care two years ago ‘Yes, this is probably going to be the last place that you’re going to be, but this is the next chapter, this is your next adventure,” says Mel.
“It’s going to be what you make of it.”
Call to learn more about residential care at Goodwin on 02 61755006 or visit online goodwin.org.au