At Freedom Care Communities, we understand how overwhelming it can feel to navigate aged care and retirement living options.
That’s why we offer a free, unbiased and personalised aged care guidance service, to support older Australians who are looking for aged care options.
Rebecca Moraitis, Industry Liaison Officer from Freedom Care Communities, sheds light on the work the team does.
How can you help those looking for aged care?
“When people are starting to require care, or wondering about care options for the future, there’s so many different options and avenues out there. People will call me or I will meet with them in person, and we discuss and understand their individual clinical, social and financial positions. Tailored information is then provided, and I offer my knowledge of the aged care sector and how different options may best suit their personal circumstances. It could be for immediate needs, so a situation where someone’s in hospital and the hospital have announced that you can’t go home. Or it could be for people who are future planning and want to know the what-ifs for when the time comes and they need to look at their care options.”
Unlike other placement groups that provide a similar service, your service is free. How does it work?
“We offer this service in good faith. We have years of knowledge behind us, which gives us a real opportunity to offer people assistance. I’m able to refer people onto others in the industry when I know there’s going to be a good outcome for that person. It’s basically just about being present and being helpful, and for good outcomes for each person.”
Tell us about what kinds of aged care options are available for people?
“People assume that aged care is going into a nursing home, but it’s not ‘one-size-fits-all’. There are a lot of options, and probably a lot more than people realise. You can stay in the home that you’re currently live in and receive a Home Care Package. You may wish to downsize and go into a retirement community or supported living environment, and receive a Home Care Package in that environment. There is your traditional Residential Aged Care option, what people refer to as a nursing home. And there are options such as Freedom Care Communities, which are a bit of a hybrid of both options, so receiving care services in a retirement-style living environment.”
How do you find people respond to the range of options out there? Are they surprised?
“They’re often very surprised at what their options are. Having that knowledge of how to access the different levels of care, how to get approvals from ACAT or ACAS, and what the approvals process is, is really helpful for people. When I meet with clients, it’s really important that I find out about them socially because I want to know where they want to be, the environment they want to live in, where their family are. I ask people if they like a garden, if they want a courtyard – I drill down that far when I’m discovering what’s important to someone.”
“That said, sometimes when someone’s in hospital, there can be a lot of pressure to make an immediate decision. There have been instances over the years where I found out what someone’s preferences were, and I was really focused on achieving that outcome, but it wasn’t achievable right there and then. There have been situations where I have placed someone somewhere as their second choice, and have them wait-listed for somewhere that was their preference. By the time their preference is available, they often say things like, “I’m quite happy where I am. I’ve made friends with the nurses, I’ve found an old friend in here that I know, I don’t need to have that place anymore.”
There’s a few different options for accommodation, one of them being respite care. What exactly is respite care?
“Respite care is a short-term option. Usually it’s a two-week minimum stay somewhere, or you can receive respite care in your home. That could be someone coming into your home while your carer goes and does chores or has some time off or takes a holiday. Respite care is technically for the actual carer, not the person receiving the respite care. The purpose of it is to make sure that person providing care is able to continue to do that without feeling burnt out. If they need to get away for whatever reason, they can place the person they’re caring for somewhere nice while they go and relax and refresh, and come back ready to continue to provide the care.”
You said respite is more for the carer, but would it be right to say that it also gives the consumer the opportunity to see what a community is like before making the decision to move in?
“Absolutely! A lot of people utilise a respite stay as a way to get a feel for a place and see if they like it prior to committing to a purchase. It is a great way to test the waters. There’s been plenty of times that people have come and said, “Wow, I didn’t realise just how good it was!” They reflect back to nursing homes back in the 50s, the old ward-style, hospital-like environment, the grumpy nurses working there. It’s really quite different now. It’s a lot more like hotels with nurses working onsite.”
What are some of the more permanent aged care options?
“You’ve got your traditional residential aged care or nursing home options, and you’ve got your hybrid models, so a mix of retirement-style living with onsite care, and 24-hour access to care in your retirement-style apartment. The other is straight retirement with your Home Care Package, which is a semi-permanent option. Care accommodation styles can range from shared room style accommodation all the way through to one, two and three-bedroom apartments, depending on where you go.”
What about for someone with limited finances?
“There’s access to care for everyone in Australia, regardless of your financial position. That’s important to know because people often assume you need to have money to receive care and that is not true. There is the ability for someone who doesn’t have any assets to go into residential aged care as a fully supported resident, or you’ve got your home owner who might keep or sell the former home. There’s options to pay an entry contribution to go into a facility. If you’re going into a nursing home, there’s means tested fees and daily fees, there’s a whole lot of complexity there with the fee structure. Or you can go into that hybrid model and there’s private fees involved. There’s options for everyone”
What is your proudest moment in helping people navigate aged care?
“Helping a large family, lots of children, Mum needs to go into care. She was in hospital and everyone was panicking, trying to find options, looking at nursing homes and coming up with different answers. I sat the whole family down together, and got them all on the same page, and within a few days, Mum was placed in her preferred option. Everyone understood what the fees were going to be, everyone had a say in the option and it was all resolved happily.”
Adapted from part of a recorded interview between 4CRB host Steve Stuttle, Phil Usher from Odyssey Lifestyle Care Communities and Rebecca Moraitis, Industry Liaison Officer from Freedom Care Communities.
Looking for support on your aged care journey?
Our personalised aged care guidance service can assist you in finding the right care option for your loved one, from short-term respite care to a comfortable home in the safety and security of a community.
Click below to find out more, or call 1800 073 604 to speak to an aged care guidance advisor.