Caring for an older person can be both complex and demanding and Carers of older people may be at different life stages themselves. You may be an older person yourself, with your own health problems; an adult child caring for elderly parents; or a relative, friend, or even a neighbour. As a neighbour, you may have taken on caring gradually when the older person had no one else to assist them. Neighbours are sometimes called "accidental Carers", as they may not have intended at first to become the person's Carer.
Given the variety of problems that can occur that make caring for an older person more difficult to manage, you may need support. As people age, chronic health problems are more likely to occur. These include diabetes, stroke, heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, sight and hearing loss, depression, problems with mobility and falls.
Dementia and memory problems are significant health problems and are much more common among people over 65 years old. Dementia may also be an issue for elderly people who are frail. Dementia is often difficult to manage and usually puts extra pressure on Carers. There is a separate section on Dementia on these web pages
Getting Help with Aged Care
Improved health care and the effects of the baby boom have now resulted in a substantial increase in the number of older people. This has increased the demand for services. Despite the range of information and support services available for older people and their Carers, there are usually eligibility criteria to meet and often significant waiting times before services can start. So don't delay seeking help.
Many older people and their Carers wish to remain at home for as long as possible. Services usually focus on helping you, as a Carer to do this. Help can include cleaning, personal care (e.g., showering and dressing), shopping, and in and out of home respite. Respite is designed either to give Carers a break, or do other important tasks while the elderly person is being cared for by someone else. For more information on respite go to Taking a Break (Respite) under Taking care of You.
About Aged Care Reforms
There are currently many reforms taking place in Aged Care Services across Australia. The Australian Government now plays the major role in the funding and provision of Aged Care services across Australia and funding levels have been significantly increased. These changes are being introduced over the next few years and this can make it confusing for Carers as they look for information and support. We try to update our web pages as new information becomes available. However, see Important Links below for the Australian Government's Department of Social Services aged care website, My Aged Care which may provide you with more up to date information.
Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATS)
In order to obtain Aged Care Services for the person for whom you care it is usually necessary for the person to be assessed by an ACAT team. For example, you must be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to check your eligibility if you are considering;
ACAT can also advise you about services such as Home Care, Meals on Wheels, Neighbour Aid, Garden Aid and Community Transport. However, if you only need one service such as Meals on Wheels, you can also refer yourself to these services as to access individual services an ACAT assessment is usually not required.
Community Care Teams
There are also Community Care teams in ACATs that arrange (case manage) and broker services in the shorter term if needed; for example, if a person with complex needs is waiting for a CACP or EACH package(see Care Packages under Info for Carers).
In SLHD there are ACAT teams in Camperdown, Canterbury and Concord. To make a referral to an ACAT in the SLHD call 1800 556 533 or 9767 5200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information you can also ring the My Aged Care Help Line: 1800 200 422
Hospital Admissions in SLHD
Depending on the problem, when an aged person is admitted to hospital they may go to a general ward, a specialised aged care ward, or a unit specifically catering for people suffering dementia. Most hospitals provide specialist services for older people, which may be available to both inpatients and outpatients. These include:
An important part of an older person's hospitalisation is input from you as the Carer. Information given to hospital staff on the person's medical history, likes and dislikes and personal preferences, can make their hospital stay easier. Providing health staff have permission from the person you care for first, it is your right to be included in discussion and decisions about the care and treatment of that person you care for while they are in hospital, visiting a health service or out-patient clinic.
Asset Teams are based in Emergency Departments (ED) at RPAH, Canterbury and Concord Hospitals. They provide full assessment of elderly people who present to our EDs in order that they can be referred to appropriate services which may or may not include admission as an inpatient.
Aged Day Care Hospitals
These are located at RPAH, Concord and Balmain hospitals and provide day programs, rehabilitation therapy and some basic nursing services (such as wound dressing).
Balmain Hospital provides in-patient and ambulatory care therapy and rehabilitation services to elderly people and younger people with a disability. Elderly patients admitted to RPAH will often be transferred to Balmain if they require longer term hospitalisation.
There is also a Transitional Care Unit at Balmain Hospital. This unit provides services to people who do not need full inpatient facilities but require rehabilitation before they are able to return home.
Home Based Therapy Teams
These teams provide rehabilitation services to elderly people in their homes who are unable to attend ambulatory care services (out-patient clinics) or who require specific home-based rehabilitation in order that they can remain at home.
Aged Care Wards
These wards provide in-patient services at RPAH, Concord and Canterbury. Concord hospital also has a Psychogeriatric ward for elderly people who have behavioural concerns due to Dementia or Delirium.