Moving into a residential aged care home may often be a difficult and emotional decision. This can be even more challenging if you or your parents come from overseas and have a non-anglo cultural background. Most aged care services must be accredited to operate but there is a big difference in the way each is run, so it’s important to ask the right questions when looking for a home. Most importantly, you will need to find a home that will provide your parents with care that is culturally and linguistically responsive, inclusive, sensitive and meets your individual needs.Here are the 10 questions to ask about cultural needs in residential aged care. Either you or your parent can ask, just make sure you’re happy with the answers – this will be their new home, so it’s important to ask questions up front.
1. Are there bi-lingual staff that can speak your language?
Residential aged care homes may have staff employed who can speak your language to assist you with your daily communication needs if your preferred language isn’t English. Ensure that there are staff who can speak your language available on each shift.
2. Are cultural food choices catered for?
The choice to eat a variety of food that is nutritious, balanced, prepared fresh and acceptable within a given culture is important for your health and wellbeing. Ask if the home has different menu choices suitable for your cultural dietary needs.
3. Are there specific house rules that you need to be aware of that may differ from your routine?
Some residential aged care homes may have rules that determine bedtimes, meal times and when personal care is provided. Find out how much choice is available with your daily activities to ensure they meet your cultural needs.
4. What are the fees and charges for the services and will there be any additional costs?
Your income and assets will determine what you will need to pay for your care. It will also determine if you are eligible for any type of subsidy. Some residential aged care homes may also have extra charges for specific items or a basic daily fee. Ask the home what your care is going to cost.
5. Are cultural needs being acknowledged?
Understanding and valuing cultural diversity is essential as culture is a defining feature of a person’s identity. Many organisations now cater to specific cultural needs, whatever your background. Ensure that the service can meet your cultural needs.
6. Are religious practices and spiritual beliefs accommodated?
Religious practices and spiritual beliefs are vast and varied across the multitude of cultures in our society. Find out how the residential aged care home assists its residents with their religious and spiritual needs.
7. Are family and friends visiting at the resident’s convenience encouraged?
Family and friends have an important role in many cultures. Find out if there are restrictions that might limit visiting. If your family want to share a meal or stay overnight, is this allowed?
8. Do you have a cultural activity that you do regularly?
Are there any specific cultural activities in your daily routine or social interactions? Ensure that the residential aged care home is aware of the importance of having these activities included in your daily routine.
9. What are the accommodation arrangements like?
Being accustomed to living a certain way may be the deciding factor when you’re looking for a residential aged care home. Make sure you are comfortable with the proposed living arrangements. Find out what you can and can’t bring with you.
10. Making a complaint?
You have the right to complain if you are not happy. Find out how you make a complaint in your residential aged care home. Interpreters can help if you call Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450.
The best way to find a home that suits you is to visit a few different homes. To find homes in your area you can use the My Aged Care Aged Care Home Finder by calling 1800 200 422 or visit www.myagedcare.gov.au
You may find these 10 questions to ask about cultural needs in residential aged care useful when:
• Searching for a high-quality residential aged care facility
• Reviewing the quality of your current residential aged care facility
• Deciding between two residential aged care facilities that appear similar.
Some useful links:
10 questions to ask about cultural needs in residential aged care PDF download link –
Carer’s Circle article on 10 questions to ask about allied health in residential aged care –
Carer’s Circle article on Aged care living options explained – three main choices –
Aged Care Reform Now – a grassroots organisation that is advocating for reform of the aged care system including better staffing in residential aged care – https://agedcarereformnow.com.au/
Fixed aged care – a campaign by the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation to support the request to change the law so that a Registered Nurses should be onsite at all times in aged care facilities – https://fixagedcare.com.au/
This article was originally published as a leaflet on 10questions.org.au. Reproduced with permission.
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