Home away from home

No, Dorothy’s aged care home could never quite aspire to that description! But, given all the circumstances, it’s about as good as it gets, currently! I recently had a discussion with a friend who seemed to lump together all nursing homes, aged care homes or whatever else they are called, “They are all rogues and are run to maximise profits”, was the gist of his take on the industry. I tried, tragically without much success, to explain that wasn’t universally the case although there may well be some ‘cowboys’ exploiting the system. (Hasn’t that always been the case, e.g. Insulation Batts in the ceiling, Solar panels – or wherever there is a government payment to be rorted!).

My personal experience of having my wife in residential care only exposes me (and her!) to just one operator, but that private company has more than 23 homes and has operated in Victoria for over 26 years. They seem to have stayed the course and with the diversity of all those sites they must have got their act together successfully. I don’t have first-hand knowledge of any other sites or their past records, but it is hard for me to find fault with the care my dear wife is receiving. Nothing is perfect and I could relate only a very few unsatisfactory occurrences but perhaps my memory is less than perfect, and emotion can cloud the issues when a loved one is concerned.

When I’ve ever had an issue with Dorothy’s care, I have always been able to talk to management and get an acceptable response. Good care costs, and the age pension doesn’t quite cover Dorothy’s monthly care nor any medications outside the PBS, and that requires me to be super-careful how I manage our affairs. I can live comfortably in my retirement village because I am lucky to have a small annuity (planned in earlier life!) to supplement my age pension and keep ahead, enough to build up a small reserve against Dorothy needing unexpected medical or other costs or, for that matter, me requiring some!

I do recognise that not all aged care facilities are the same, and I must have been lucky, or careful. The old adage: ‘You get what you pay for’ and another that says, ‘Look before you leap’,  are a couple of wise old sayings to keep in mind when evaluating potential care homes. I well remember, comparatively recently, visiting elderly friends in care homes which smelled of urine, were dark and dingy, had inadequate staff levels, and awful meals. I find it hard to believe that there are still some like that but, it seems, there are!

In more recent times, most of our Aussie public services, from local councils to public transport, communications and dozens of other institutions have, in general terms, undergone massive changes in the range and delivery of services. And residential care facilities have mushroomed to cope with the growing cohort of elders. As always, those services are mostly driven by the profit motive but mitigated by demand and by feedback from concerned users, welfare organisations, even some politicians, pushing for improvements; and I am grateful for those past and continuing efforts! Maybe aged care facilities are still not all, or always, a ‘home away from home’, but home is where the heart is, and I am at ease about where my love is living now!

Are any of my readers unhappy at the state of their partner’s care homes? Let me know….