Dealing with the Challenge of Age Care

A key component of any succession plan is an understanding of how the current owners will transition to retirement over time. Future Retirement Living and Aged Care is an integral part of this planning process.

Aged Care can be a complex and challenging issue. In rural areas, various circumstances exacerbate these problems. Issues such as access to Home Care services, accommodation facilities and Centrelink benefits are particularly difficult for rural and regional families.

The farming community have their own special problems to deal with. The ownership of land often gives the parents a feeling of security, however this very ownership can cause difficulties when the family is trying to reduce the cost of Aged Care. Further, the question of who is responsible for assisting the parents to deal with Aged Care issues will often fall unfairly to the on-farm children, simply because they live in the vicinity of the parents. Another concern arises where the Parents have passed the farm onto the next generation and are unable to find the funds to pay the RAD? When the parents have purchased a town property, we often hear the comment “we can pay for the bond (Refundable Accommodation Deposit) by selling the house”. What they do not consider is that both parents may not need Aged Care at the same time or in the same way. In many cases the remaining spouse would prefer to continue living in their home.

Let’s examine some of these issues a little further:

The Challenges of Home Care

Roles in a family vary and that works fine when life is normal but if care is needed life changes and only when it becomes necessary do people appreciate the many things that have to be managed and who must meet the challenges.

Depending on what has occurred, tasks may be simple but quickly deteriorate and magnify problems:

• Income producing activity is affected
• Physical factors increase
• Emotional pressure builds
• Strangers may be needed to provide some level of care
• Costs are increased and need to be funded
• Available support may be difficult to find when you need it
• Usually all these matters come at a time you least expect

The problem of holding onto Assets

Land is the main farm asset and is an essential component of its income producing capacity, but liquidity will be the most pressing issue to deal with once it becomes clear that some kind of care necessary – in many cases urgently.

You need to consider how much funding is needed and if all the land is required. Otherwise what other options do you have to access the required amount to meet all the financial commitment that you are going to need. Understandably you may be reluctant to make changes, but it is better to be prepared.

Finding an appropriate facility and negotiating the fees

The care system is complex, and most people have never visited an aged care facility before it becomes urgent, so a little homework is well worthwhile to fully appreciate the steps required so that you make informed decisions.

All aged care facilities are listed on the Government web site “my aged care” and the room cost Refundable accommodation deposit must be advertised but may be subject to negotiation in some situations and ongoing fees are also shown.

Dealing with an unexpected crisis

Suddenly you are confronted with urgent, emotional and complex decisions.

• You must arrange for an Aged Care Assessment (ACAT) in order to enter residency into an Aged Care facility
• Suitable facilities within your area and your financial capabilities need to be identified
• Cost of care and possible negotiation of fees needs to be undertaken
• Centrelink documentation must be completed (32 pages and approx. 144 questions need to be answered correctly)

These matters are difficult, complex and may take up a lot of time to navigate under pressure. As with succession, planning ahead is critical.

Many questions will need to be addressed such as:

What would you do if an unforeseen event meant that you couldn’t perform your current roles and responsibilities?

– Who will help out?
– Would that person have the required expertise and knowledge?
– Would that person be available at the time required?
– Will you need to move into town?
– Will you require home care?
– Will you need to move into an Aged Care facility?
– How will you fund the changes?
– Do you have the liquidity?
– Will contracted carers travel great distances to your property? At what cost?
– Will suitable facilities be available in your location at a cost that you can afford?

Rural Australia generally has limited resources to cover these needs. No plan is complete without addressing these critical matters and it must be uniquely tailored for each individual in each family.

Dealing with Aged Care is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ and the earlier you establish a forward plan that all relevant family members understand, the better the outcome for all involved.

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