Choosing an Aged Care Centre: What to consider
Moving from your home into a residential aged care centre can be a stressful but rewarding experience for you or your loved one.
An aged care centre provides a welcoming home environment that goes beyond “nursing”. It will promote health and wellbeing, social interaction, mental stimulation and enjoyment, as well as providing a safe place to live.
Before you start the process of choosing an aged care centre, it’s a good idea to write down your specific needs so that you’re prepared and can ask the right questions when you make contact.
Here’s six things for consideration when deciding on an aged care centre that best suits your needs.
1. Level of care required
Arguably the most crucial point, but it’s important to ensure the residential aged care centre you are considering can provide the appropriate level of care you need.
You may be looking to move into an aged care centre because you need the extra support professional care can provide, including meals, personal care and social support.
As your needs change overtime, you may want to ensure your chosen aged care centre can move you to a new suite that better caters for your needs. You may want additional services or need specialised dementia or palliative care.
Being comfortable in your new environment is crucial, so it is a good idea to take a tour of the aged care centre you’re considering and spend some time observing it.
Things to consider when you visit is whether the facility is clean, fresh and airy. Also, is it tidy, with little clutter around, so that the risk of trips and falls is minimised?
Is there a choice between individual rooms or shared rooms? Do they have ensuites or shared bathrooms?
As a good rule of thumb for an aged care centre, you should feel that it will always be easy to receive the support and services you need.
3. Facilities and services
The facilities offered at different aged care centres can vary significantly so it’s worth putting together a checklist of things that are important to you.
For example, if you like an outdoor lifestyle, it’s worth checking out the garden spaces available to residents. Some even have swimming pools if you’re keen on a regular dip.
Alternatively, if you prefer indoor living, make sure you ask if there’s a library, café, community hall or other communal spaces available.
Don’t forget to check if the personal care services you require will be on hand. For example, will you have access to a hairdresser, podiatrist, physiotherapist or beautician?
If you can access the facilities and services you enjoy, this will help you settle in to your new home more quickly.
Surveys and feedback show that the food served in an aged care centre is often the thing the residents care most about.
Ask to see the weekly menu and check out how much variety and choice is on offer. If you have special dietary, cultural or ethical needs, check whether these can be catered for.
Are the meals presented in an appealing way? Are these healthy and nutritious? Remember though, that many residents require easily digestible and even pureed food, so these meals might not always appear as tempting as you might expect.
Another thing to consider is whether family members can join residents for meals and whether they have access to a kitchenette to make themselves a cup of tea or coffee and a sandwich.
It’s a sad fact of life that more and more people are experiencing loneliness. Relationships Australia warns that social relationships tend to decline as we age, which can lead to feelings of loneliness. This can be devastating for older people, leading to depression and other health issues.
Of course, if you choose the right place, it won’t be long before you make new friends, but it’s still important to think carefully about the location. Will it be easy for family and friends to visit? Does it have adequate visitor parking?
If you plan to go out some days, is the aged care centre close to a shopping centre, cafes, movie theatre or other facilities that are important to you?
6. Community activities
Most residential aged care centres offer a program of activities to support residents’ social, mental and physical wellbeing. However, it’s worth checking whether the activities suit your needs and interests.
One thing you can do is ask to see the activities calendar so you can get a sense of what types of activities are on offer and how often they are run.
Some examples at IRT aged care centres include craft groups, men’s shed activities, themed events, and visits from local school children.
Movies, musicians, games and pet therapy are other activities on offer at many places, as well as outdoor activities, such as walking groups, shopping trips and bus outings.
If you have specific cultural or language needs, talk openly to the staff about these to be sure you’ll receive the best possible care and support.
There’s no doubt making the decision to move into an aged care centre can be difficult. You and your loved ones can be filled with uncertainty. The best way to make a good decision is to visit several aged care centres to compare them. Ask the questions that are relevant to your needs, listen carefully to the responses and observe keenly what is happening around you. This will give you the best chance of finding the aged care centre that’s right for you.