Smoothing the transition to aged care

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Admitting a loved one into care for the first time can be an emotionally charged experience for both the family and the new resident. However, to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible – whether the loved one is transferring from a hospital setting or their own home – there are a number of tasks that can be actioned before admission.

It’s a good idea to set aside time before admission day to sign the Admission Agreement, as well as to discuss any further questions in relation to the Terms and Conditions.

Providing the facility with any Enduring Power of Attorney or Advanced Directive papers will streamline the process around repeated requests for further

And if you are admitting a loved one for short-term care or carer support, ensure you bring the appropriate funding information or carer support form.

The Ministry of Health sets strict criteria for clinical admissions, so be prepared for a multitude of questions.

This is normal practice and can take some time. We always appreciate it when the next of kin are present to share in telling the story and providing information.

Relatives should set aside time to be orientated to the facility and meet the care team.

Ensure that you are introduced to the clinical manager, the best source for any clinical information you may need. Understanding how meals, laundry and activities work is important for a new resident, as well as such simple, practical matters such as how the bell system works.

Families should ensure all queries are explained to their satisfaction.

All clothing should be well named, and provision of initial toiletries or home comforts, such as a special blanket, slippers or books, can make the transition easier.

We encourage new residents to bring in lots of photographs, artwork, and small items of furniture to give their space a homely feel.

Many facilities do not provide a television, so it is expected that the family will provide this.

Setting up services such as Sky and a telephone line should be discussed before admission as these may take a few days to be connected.

Most facilities have Wi-Fi access for a nominal monthly fee; so that a seamless set-up can be arranged, and we encourage families to advise the facility in advance if they require these services.

Newspaper delivery is also the responsibility of the individual to arrange.

We also recommend setting up a comfort account for the family member.

If left to be on-charged, activities such as hairdressing appointments, taxis, outings or podiatry can mount up.

Getting involved at pre-admission stage can contribute to early settling, effective communication, and ensuring that the family and the care team share the same goals for the loved one.

In next month’s column I will explore some of the expectations, myths and challenges of care expressed by both the families and facilities.

-Melissa Harris

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