The crucial differences between retirement villages and aged care

Both provide supportive environments for older people, but their contrasts include the level of care and government subsidies.

By Louise Biti   Australian Financial Review  13 June 2019

As adults we make choices about where we want to live and our decisions are driven by lifestyle, work or family. But as we (or our parents) get older, these choices start to be affected by health or increasing levels of frailty. And this may necessitate a change.

In our frailty years, where we live is not just a decision about physical location, it needs to give consideration to the access of care and support.

Homes come in a variety of shapes, styles and legal structures. Planning ahead of time and researching the options are critical to making a well-informed decision. It is important to understand what is affordable as well as how your daily routine can be managed.

Accommodation versus care

Older people needing access to greater levels of support may compare retirement villages with residential aged care services, and view them as substitutes. Both provide supportive environments for older people, but it is incorrect to view them as substitutes.

The error comes from using the traditional property comparisons of price and size. For example, people may see that in a retirement village they have access to a whole unit or villa, while for a similar price in a residential aged care service, they have only a single room.

When looking at accommodation options to support an increasing level of frailty, you should separately consider:

  • The physical building that you will live in (accommodation); and
  • How you will manage the daily living activities (care and support).

Retirement villages versus residential care

Retirement villages offer the opportunity to live in a community of older people. Maintenance of the external building and community garden areas is provided by the village operator. But it is still independent living.

In a retirement village you may be able to choose to access support and assistance inside the home, but at an additional cost. The services available vary from one retirement village to the next. You need to have the financial capacity to meet the costs as these care services are not subsidised by government. You may, however, qualify for government-subsidised home care packages.

Residential aged care services bundle together fully-supported living and care with accommodation.

This care is provided 24/7 and is heavily subsidised by the government. You need to have an assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to access the government subsidies.

Taking the next step

Pulling together the information you need to understand to make choices can be difficult and stressful for you and your family.

Emotions can run high when families are facing issues with frailty. Emotions of guilt, grief and greed can affect how family members react and behave.

Giving yourself time by starting your research early can reduce stress levels and ensure your voice is heard more clearly.

General advice only. Louise Biti is director of Aged Care Steps

Original article here

 

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