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Discover how Charles found and paid for his father’s aged care home.

When his father showed increasing signs of dementia, Charles knew it was time for a higher level of care. Here’s how he researched and funded the aged care home that would best suit his father.

Time for more care

Charles’ father has been living alone in the family home since his wife died five years ago. At the age of 79, he has started to show increasing signs of dementia, and Charles believes he will soon need to enter an aged care home.

Accessing subsidised aged care services

Knowing it was best to avoid making decisions in a crisis, Charles began to research the options before the situation became urgent. Through the government website, My Aged Care, he arranged to complete the first step which involved a visit by a member of a local Aged Care Assessment Team. They assessed what type of government subsidised aged care services his father was eligible for.

Considering costs

After receiving approval for residential aged care, Charles investigated costs. He discovered that the amount to be paid depended on several variables, including:
• the type of support required such as specialist dementia care
• the chosen aged care provider
• his father’s financial situation
• any extra services he may need to pay for

He found a local aged care home where his dad would feel safe and comfortable, but he still wasn’t sure how best to pay any ongoing aged care costs. After talking to a licensed financial adviser, however, Charles decided to sell the family home to fund his father’s move.

Taking action before things get urgent

Exploring the options before the situation became critical meant that Charles was able to take his time to find an aged care home that was right for his father and would suit the family’s financial situation. Charles’ father is now comfortable and well cared for in an aged care home within easy reach of the family.

Tips for finding care for your parents

As Charles discovered, finding and paying for the right aged care home can be a complicated process. The tips below can help you navigate the process.

Tips on choosing the right residential aged care

1. Think ahead
Your parents could remain independent for life — or they might require residential aged care quite suddenly. Having a plan in place “just in case” can bring everyone peace of mind. And the sooner you start your research, the more likely you are to find an aged care home you like that is close to family and friends.

2. Consider how you would fund a lump sum
If you decide to pay your parent’s accommodation cost as a lump sum, consider the type of assets available to make this payment. Commonly referred to as a ‘Refundable Accommodation Deposit’, it is guaranteed by the government when paid to the facility and repayable to the estate in the event of death, net of any fees owing to the aged care home.

3. Think about opting for ongoing payments
If you decide not to pay a lump sum, your parents accommodation cost can be paid as an ongoing payment. The aged care home uses a government set interest rate to calculate the ongoing payment. Commonly referred to as a ‘Daily Accommodation Payment’, these payments are not refundable to the estate and can be funded from available asset and income including Age Pension, savings and superannuation.

4. Research the various costs and options
By law, every aged care home must provide a certain standard of care. However, accommodation can vary from a shared room with two or three other people to a single room with en-suite and all the extra services you’d expect from a luxury hotel. It’s important to research costs and inclusions, as well as locations. Australian Unity offers a range of aged care accommodation options that can be explored.

5. Get professional advice
A licensed financial adviser can outline various options to fund your parents care and help you make these important decisions. They can also help make the most of your parents’ assets before and during care to help pay for ongoing aged care costs. For example, if they have investments such as shares or there are additional savings after selling the family home and paying a lump sum accommodation cost.

6. Encourage your parents to prepare for the future
It’s hard to talk to your parents about writing a will or appointing an enduring power of attorney to make decisions when they no longer can. But having the conversation while they’re still healthy and independent will make life less stressful for the whole family further down the track.