© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
On taking a new role in the business world, it is said that your first 90 days sets the tone on your future success in the role. The learning curve is steep and the flood of information tests your ability to remain focused and stride ahead in those first few months.
The same could be said when you take on the role of carer. However, in addition to the steep learning curve and flood of information from doctors, medical specialists and other health professionals, the carer is often emotionally overwhelmed by the sudden deterioration of their loved one.
To help you in your new role as carer, I have collated a list of practical measures to take in those initial months. If you tick these boxes early on, your journey as a carer will be a smoother one.
1. Find The Paperwork
If your loved has lost cognitive capacity to make decisions, you need to have a certified copy of their Enduring Power of Attorney, Enduring Guardian and Advanced Health Care Directive documents.
If your loved one has appointed you as their attorney, these documents will give you the power to make financial, lifestyle and health decisions on their behalf.
For more detail on these documents, please refer to my prior blog on Essential Legal Documents for Aged Care.
If you are appointed as their attorney, execution of these documents requires your signature. Normally you would be handed a certified copy once the documents are executed. If you do not have a certified copy, it is best to call your care recipient's solicitor and request multiple certified copies. You will need the copies for future paperwork for banks, Aged Care Facilities, and other legal requirements.
If these documents do not exist and your loved one still has cognitive capacity, visit your solicitor quick smart and arrange their preparation and execution.
Make this a priority as once your loved one loses cognitive capacity you will need to apply to an Administrative Tribunal to obtain the power to make decisions on their behalf, and this is not an easy process! The experience of one of our clients is recounted in this case study blog, Life Events When You Have No Estate Plan In Place.
2. Arrange An Assessment
To protect their own health, carers are encouraged to engage care and service providers to help spread the load of their caring responsibilities. Subject to an income and assets test, these care services are subsided by the Commonwealth Government. The important point here is to get on with arranging the assessment.
As at January 2021, many of my aged care clients are waiting up to 24 to 28 months for subsidised aged care support, so it is critical to get the assessment process underway as soon as possible.
When The Care Recipient Is Over 65 Years Of Age
If your loved one is over the aged of 65 years, the Commonwealth Government agency to contact is My Aged Care.
Arranging a My Aged Care assessment involves two steps. Firstly, contacting My Aged Care to establish that your loved one is eligible for a face-to-face assessment. Eligibility can be established with My Aged Care over the phone or online.
If eligible, My Aged Care will then consider whether the care needs are low or high. This then leads us to the second step, the face-to-face assessment in the home.
If the care needs are considered low, they will send a Regional Assessment Service (RAS) assessor to the home to conduct the assessment. If the care needs are high, a member of the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) will undertake the assessment.
When The Care Recipient Is Under 65 Years Of Age
If your loved one is under 65 years of age, the Commonwealth Government agency to contact is the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). The NDIA is responsible for administrating the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Again, the process involves establishing whether you are eligible for subsidised care and this can be done over the phone or online with the NDIA.
If you are assessed as eligible for support, the NDIA will arrange for a Local Area Coordinator or Early Childhood Early Intervention Coordinator to visit to discuss the support and funding needs with you and your loved one.
3. Consider The Available Finances
As mentioned earlier, government subsidies for aged care services recommended by ACAT do take time to come through. It is important to have financial reserves to draw on to pay for care privately during the waiting period.
If there is no cash reserve to draw on, seek financial advice on your financial options. For example, one of my clients, a business owner with cash tied up in the business, released equity on the family home through a reverse mortgage to pay for in-home care for this wife diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
4. Put A Support Team & Emergency Care Plan In Place
It is important that the carer does not succumb to the physical, psychological, emotional and financial toll of their new role. As I always say,
We do not want to end up caring for two people!
You must call on other family members, neighbours, friends, volunteers or paid in-home care services to help you to give yourself regular breaks.
I recommend drawing up a weekly and monthly care roster to structure these breaks and drafting an Emergency Care Plan to give yourself peace of mind should something occur while you are not present.
If you are feeling exhausted, consider a period in respite (day respite or residential respite) for your loved one to give yourself time to recharge.
If It All Feels Like Too Much
Being someone's carer is a big life role and can be overwhelming, especially at the beginning stages when there is a lot to set up.
If you need help implementing these practical measures - be it referrals to estate planners and aged care accredited financial advisors, or guidance on bringing together a care support team and care planning - please feel free to contact me, Danielle Robertson, for a no obligation, complimentary discussion.