Which aged care service is suitable for Australian Chinese? Do you need to sell your house when you live in a nursing home?

Australia has always been known as a paradise for the elderly, and various aged care methods have been well developed here. However, the sayings “live in a nursing home you must sell a house” or “live in a nursing home you must confiscate your pensions” and so on, are widely circulated in the Chinese community. I believe that many friends lack a comprehensive understanding of Australia’s aged care service. How the elderly in Australia chooses a suitable way of aged care?

 

Two aged care services are familiar to Chinese elders:

Option 1: Facilities such as a Nursing home

Option 2: Home Care

We will not arbitrarily say which method is good and which method is bad. But this article will analyse trends from the Australian government.

 

In the 2021-2022 Federal Government Budget, 80,000 HCP positions will be provided. This can also clearly explain the trend of government resources.

Why is the government encouraging home care for the elderly? The reasons are as follows:

 

1) Familiarity with your environment.

Adapting to a new environment can be difficult for older people, particularly when the furnishings or objects in their own homes are familiar.

Chinese people have the culture of “being attached to native land and unwilling to leave it.”. I believe many readers would not like to suddenly change their living environment in their retired life and live in an unfamiliar environment.

2) Fixed team and continuity of care.

Aged Care Quality Standards, the consistency of care staff and nursing team has been repeatedly emphasised. For home care, most team members are fixed, which will maintain the service quality.

3) Faster application

If you apply for a Home Care Package, the longest waiting period is about one year, but to wait for a suitable nursing home may mean three to five years of wait time, or in some cases even longer.

4) Transformation of care methods.

Traditionally, for dementia or Alzheimer patients, the only way for them to continue living safely was in a nursing home. However, with the launch of the self-management model of Happy Living, with low management fees, low service rates, and the assistance of their children, many elderly people with Level 3- Level 4 subsidies have 20 hours or more per week. The number of service hours means children and care staff take alternate shifts. Therefore, the elderly with higher care are able to live at their own home with Home Care Package.

 

Is it true that “to live in a nursing home you need to sell a house” or “to live in a nursing home , government will take pensions away” and so on?

We need to explain a cost, which is the “means-tested care fee” for a nursing home. This is very different from the “income test fee” for a Home Care Package.

The income test for a Home Care Package depends only on how much money you earn, not how many assets you have.

It mainly involves the assessment of your income, which means that only income is considered, not assets. For example, if there are deposits, the government will only count interest income; if there are houses, the government will only count rental income; if there are stocks, the government will only count stock income. And most importantly, there is a cap or limit on the income test fee where you would only need to pay a maximum $30 AUD a day.

The assessment of nursing homes is completely different. How much money you earn and assets are both counted.

The assessment of nursing homes is not only calculating the income of the elderly, but also considers the domestic and foreign assets of the elderly. Including house value, investment product total value, income appraisal, etc., you may need to pay means-tested care fee of up to $300 AUD per day.

In addition, the average bond for a nursing home is around $300,000, If you choose a nursing home in a busy urban area, the fee may be as high as $1 million. Of course, this is a refundable bond.

Therefore, in general, many elders will have a feeling that “you need to sell a house if you live in a nursing home.”

 

For elders with higher care needs, can HCP provide enough support?

In most cases, a Home Care Package is a senior care allowance, which can provide adequate support.

Case study:

Happy Living has a couple clients, both in their 90s who are living in Sydney. Both of them hold Level 4 packages and suffer from dementia at the same time. With Happy Living’s services, both husband and wife have overcome the epidemic safely, and have also been greatly improved in terms of mentality and overall health.

We once interviewed the couple and their daughter and asked why they chose to live at home, instead of a nursing home, and also chose Happy Living.

Their answer was:

1) Happy Living offers the self-management model. The couple has about 48 hours of service hours a week. On average, there are more than 8 hours a day. Therefore, their care worker and daughter can take alternate shifts. The daughter is able work and care for her family.

2) The care staff provide full-time care, the staff only change twice in 2 years’ service.

3) The Care Managers at Happy Living are either registered nurses or from the age care industry. They can identify the precursor symptoms of dementia when chatting with the elderly. And provide advice about when to see a doctor.

We believe that through this case, there will be greater enlightenment for some older people with higher care needs. I also hope that readers can make their own age care choices based on their own economic conditions and health conditions.