Choosing a residential aged care service by Sophie Doyle A re you helping a family member or friend to make the move into residential care? Are you confused and finding the process stressful? Choosing the right service provider is an important and onerous decision and sometimes the choice may be limited because of the shortage in providers, the urgency and lack of time or the availability of suitable places. The pressure can be overwhelming. But choosing the right residential care service is key to a good experience. There are many factors to consider when making a choice but it can be approached in a similar way to choosing where to buy or rent a home. The decision process may include the following steps: Making the choice might depend on: Where the person wants to live? Whether they want to stay in the same area or move closer to family members? If they are looking for a service that is aligned to their cultural, religious or lifestyle needs? Can they access additional lifestyle services? What facilities, services or entertainment programs are provided? What is the style or standard of accommodation? Whether the service can meet their specific care needs, eg. dementia care? How much the person can afford or whether places are available if a low- means resident? Help to make the choice The first step is to choose the location and then research the services that provide care in that area. There are a number of websites that can be used to search and compare service providers but the main resources that clients use include: 26 S EN I O R S O N T H E C OA S T Checklist: This checklist provides a list of questions that you may wish to ask an aged care service provider to help you narrow down your choice. Service provider policies Find out about the rules for living in the service including the obligations and responsibilities of both residents and the service provider: ✔ ✔ What service levels are included in the Resident Agreement and do additional fees apply? ✔ ✔ Are the any specific ‘house rules’ that residents need to be aware of? ✔ ✔ Are there strict times for personal care, bed times, meal times and visiting times, or is there flexibility to suit a person’s preferences? ✔ ✔ Can residents (or visitors) bring pets? ✔ ✔ What security and emergency procedures are in place to protect residents eg fire safety, abuse issues? ✔ ✔ Do staff always knock and ask permission before entering a resident’s room? ✔ ✔ How are complaints or concerns handled? Care and staffing Find out about the staffing levels and qualifications and how care is provided: ✔ ✔ What care services are provided? Are there any limitations or restrictions? ✔ ✔ Are dementia needs catered for, and how? ✔ ✔ What staffing levels are maintained on weekdays, weekends and evenings (ie staff to resident ratios)? ✔ ✔ Are registered nurses on-site at all times (ie 24-hours a day) and do nurses supervise medications? ✔ ✔ What is staff turnover like and do residents get to know the same staff? ✔ ✔ What training and qualifications do care staff have? ✔ ✔ Can residents visit their own doctor or have their own doctor visit the service? ✔ ✔ Are visiting medical practitioners (eg doctors, dentists) available and if so, how often do they visit? ✔ ✔ What other health services available at the service, eg physiotherapy, massage services, podiatry, rehabilitation, occupational therapy, speech therapy, optometry? ✔ ✔ How do the staff consult with the resident’s family and can the family call and speak to the care staff at any time? Room and lifestyle Find out about the types of rooms and activities available to determine how happy and comfortable the person will be: ✔ ✔ Who is your typical resident? ✔ ✔ What types of rooms are available eg size, furnishings, bathroom access, views? ✔ ✔ Can couples be accommodated and how? ✔ ✔ Do residents have access to a safe or locker in their room to store personal items?