Jan 19, 2018

Beyond Aged Care: When the Decision is Taken Away From You

Throughout my nursing career, I always felt so much empathy for elderly people struggling with the changes happening to their body and lifestyle – especially those that found themselves losing their independence.

I put myself in their shoes and tried to imagine what it would feel like to lose your independence or have people telling you what’s best for you. Especially something as important of where they can or should life for the rest of their life.

The thought of having any decision about my own life taken away from me – would be unbearable.

As a nurse I spent many years working in the hospital, and the hundreds of elderly patients I was asked to see over the years to find a “new alternative home” exposed me to much stress, sadness and anguish. For them and their families.

The mere thought that the place they call ‘home’ – may not be something they can return to.  Whether or not ‘home’ was something they owned or they rented, it didn’t matter, as many had spent most of their adult lives – making their own decisions, running their own life.

Many patients had lived in fact lived in there since they were a child – in some cases their parents or partner had built the house that they were still living in before their admission to hospital.

Decades of priceless memories and experiences – not doubt feeling like it’s being stripped away, one by one.

For anyone, it’s a lot to take in, let alone when you may also be struggling with deteriorating health or recent death of a spouse. And for some patients, they don’t have family and therefore need to go it alone without support.

The normal process for an elderly patient that couldn’t return home, often looked like this:

The medical physician or geriatrician would be asked to assess their safety to be discharged home – which is often based on physical function, general health and how much support they have from friends/family.

If they were unsafe to return home for whatever reason – then the process for searching for an aged care facility would often be the only option available.

Families, friends, or guardians would be called in and would have to start the search for a “new home”.

Instantly, families would have to come up to speed on how to enter aged care, the finances and where are the good places to go. This process even for the most intelligent, resourceful and well informed can be a nightmare.

Imagine being told you have 5 – 7 days to find a new home for yourself or a loved one.

A place that you no doubt will spend the rest of your days.

For me it’s unfathomable.

Whilst all this is happening, in the background the older person sits patiently in the hospital bed, no doubt feeling incredibly vulnerable and helpless – whilst everyone else talks about or decides their fate for them.

It’s a stressful time for families to work through – often feeling sadness and guilt. All they want is to find a home that will care for their loved one – as best as they can and as close as possible to the way they would.

It was this stress and anguish that I could see families and older people were faced with which prompted me to look for better options and provide better resources for people.

So I started a website called Aged Care Report Card which many of you would be familiar with – a directory and reviews site for aged care services around Australia. It was the first trusted online word-of-mouth that shared peer recommendations in the industry.

When I first started the site – reviews were a new concept to the industry. Which came with mixed opinion from providers and industry. I believe however we have worked hard engaging, educating and proving ourselves to industry and operators that we want exactly what they do – and it’s to ensure all older people receive quality care. We aren’t in the industry to name and shame – rather to promote a culture whereby organisations and CEO’s take the approach of tackling negative press head on.

We’ve seen it last year with a number of aged care organisations that have been slammed by media. Let’s face it no service is perfect and what makes the difference between a good or bad service – is the way they deal with issues when they arise. And take ownership for their faults.

It was interesting – not long after the site was launched one of my social worker colleagues told me that her patient out of sheer desperation would stand outside nursing homes and wait for visitors and other families to leave – in the hope of catching one of them on the fly to ask them about their experiences and opinions.

This only validated my commitment to help older people and their families. More must be done to give people the much needed information and reassurance needed to make a decision.

That was in 2014 – but now more than three years later, as we have grown we have decided to change our name.

After feedback from our community we are changing our name Aged Care Report Card to CarePage.

Let me tell you why.

Because the options for seniors are growing. Beyond aged care there are retirement villages, home care, geriatricians and other senior services. We do more than just rate aged care homes now.

And we know, and fully understand, that all seniors do not see themselves as “aged care”.

I started the directory when there was nowhere else to look for aged care reviews.

The three core values that are an important part of our company  – which are still upheld to this very day – integrity, honesty and trust.

The site now is not just about helping families find reviews. It’s important to give a voice to those living in the facility too, to get their opinions and thoughts about their “home”.

Through innovative and industry leading technology we have designed and developed tools to track real time anonymous feedback so that facilities, where necessary, can make continuous improvements within their organisations and for their residents.

This is something that has never been done before in the industry.

We thank everyone for their ongoing support as we transition from Aged Care Report Card to CarePage – you can visit our new website www.carepage.com.au

As always feedback is most welcomed. Feel free to write a review too.

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