There are two ways of referring yourself or your ageing loved one to My Aged Care, for assessment for services and support. But before you do, here’s what to think about before contacting My Aged Care.
My Aged Care is the service provided by the Federal Government to connect older Australians with aged care services. To access any Government subsidised services including home and residential care, you must register with My Aged Care.
If you call My Aged Care (MAC) you will be contacting a call centre. You can also make a referral to My Aged Care online, this would be my recommendation, as referring online will give you the time to think about how to answer the questions in the referral.
If you call My Aged Care, the people who answer the phone are call centre staff. They are not clinicians. Their conversations are scripted and they are not able to give clinical advice and they are unaccustomed to the local service provision in any given region (perhaps unless they have experienced it for themselves). The call centre staff will ask you a whole lot of questions to determine your or your loved one’s functional ability, that is how much you can do for yourself and how much you are dependent on others to assist you with your activities of daily living (ADLs).
Referring online will also ask you these types of questions.
The questions will focus on domestic activities of daily living, like cooking, shopping, cleaning and personal activities of daily living, like grooming, showering, toileting and medications administration through to instrumental activities of daily living, such as driving and paying bills for example.
They will also ask about cognitive impairment.
How you answer these questions will determine if the MAC call centre staff refer you or your loved one for further assessment with either a Regional Assessment Service (RAS) or the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).
The RAS assess for entry-level services and support under Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP). The ACAT assess and approve for Home Care Packages, Short Term Restorative Care, Transition Care Programme and respite at or entry into Residential Aged Care Facilities.
Now…this is what you need to know. If you are managing ok at home and just need some help to mow the yard or clean your house, that sits appropriately within a RAS assessment and CHSP services.
If you are caring for a loved one and they are dependent on you to assist them with their activities of daily living, then you are more likely to be heading towards an ACAT assessment. If you think you fall within the scope of an ACAT assessment, then you need to think honestly about how you are going to answer the questions.
See our article on Home care packages – what’s the difference between CHSP and HCP? for more of an explanation.
Don’t be stoic
Don’t think ‘oh well, things aren’t so bad today’ and be lulled into a false sense of everything being bearable.
Be honest about what is going on with your ageing loved one.
These are the key points to convey
Describe in detail everything you assist your ageing loved one with
• Think about helping them get out of bed or get out of a chair.
• Think about putting their wheelie walker in front of them when they want to go for a walk.
• Think about helping wash or dry them during a shower.
• Think about preparing meals for them, taking them shopping, helping them pay bills and accompanying them to appointments.
• And especially consider overnight assistance. If you need to get up during the night to assist your loved one then this is an ‘alarm bell’ reflecting a higher level of dependency.
• If you need to remind your ageing loved one to take their tablets every morning or evening.
• If your loved one cannot do these things for themselves we are now looking towards a comprehensive assessment with an ACAT assessor.
Continence is a big-ticket item…and one that people are very reluctant to talk about.
• Ensure you convey any incontinence, even if it is infrequent…because it is unlikely the continence issues will improve and continence is one of those ‘markers’ we in older persons care to look at when determining ‘level of care’.
• Also, some GPs do not know that their patient is incontinent because it’s kind of embarrassing for some people to disclose…get past the discomfort my friends, this is important!
So if the GP is making the referral to MAC, ensure the GP knows about the continence issue!
Another ‘big ticket item’. If your ageing loved one has issues with their memory, regardless of if they do or don’t have a diagnosis of dementia, you need to convey your concerns.
Again, impaired cognition is something we look at when we are establishing the level of dependency an older person requires in their activities of daily living.
Again, I cannot stress enough that if your ageing loved one’s GP is unaware of memory issues, then you need to highlight this with them if they are the person who will generate the referral to My Aged Care.
Plan before you call
Be prepared and give some thought to what is going on at home before you call My Aged Care.
Write down prompts or potential answers to questions about activities of daily living and memory so that you’re able to convey an accurate and descriptive account of the needs of your ageing loved one.
Then, allow yourself some time so you won’t be distracted or interrupted and make the call or hop online to My Aged Care.
Some useful links:
This article is the second of the Getting started with home care series by Coral Wilkinson. Other articles in the series include:
How do you get your ageing parent to accept help? Turn resistance into acceptance –
Registering for aged care services with My Aged Care –
How do I get started with aged care? –
Other useful links include:
See Me Aged Care Navigators – experts in navigating the home care space to make sure your loved one gets the optimal service and support tailored to their needs – https://www.seemeacn.com.au/
Australian Federal Government website to access all aged care services – My Aged Care – https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/ This is where you register for an assessment to access most government-subsidised aged care services. Please do your research and plan and prepare before you make your call to register your parent. Check out the site, the services available etc. Think about your parent’s situation, what they need etc.
Carers’ Circle article on Home care packages – what’s the difference between CHSP and HCP?
Photo credit: Senior Man busy on the laptop on Pexel
A version of this article “What to think about before contacting My Aged Care” originally appeared on Coral Wilkinson See Me Aged Care Navigators website. Reproduced with permission.