Aged care: why you need an advanced care plan now

With more headlines this week about aged care homes “dumping” residents in emergency departments, we decided to take a look at hospital transfers from aged care facilities in the last year. 

While these have increased, they don’t say how many of these admissions were for urgent medical treatment or end-of-life care. 

The reality is there are more people entering aged care than ever before. Often they are older, in their 80’s or 90’s, with a range of serious health conditions. 2017 also saw severe flu and gastro outbreaks affect a number of facilities. 

If residents need medical care, then they will be transferred to hospital for treatment – regardless of staffing arrangements. 

There’s also the critical – and often overlooked – issue of end-of-life care. 

Most of us would be unaware aged care facilities receive very little funding for palliative care – because it is funded under a separate arrangement, most aged care residents don’t qualify for funding. 

Don’t leave decisions for the emergency room 

A recent Productivity Commission report found thousands of Australians were dying in hospitals when they would rather be at home or in a familiar environment. 

It recommended the Government relax the restrictions on palliative care funding in aged care and require facilities to have trained staff talk to residents about their future care needs. 

We support this idea. It’s estimated around half of Australians won’t be able to make our own end-of-life decisions, but few of us have a plan in place. 

The Commission wants us to use our 70-plus health check – or next annual check-up – to set up an advanced care plan that sets out who you would like to speak for you if you are too sick to do so yourself and what health care decisions you would like them to make. 

This should be then updated if you go into an aged care home. 

It make sense. You will know your wishes are being respected – and ease the stress on your family to make decisions during a difficult time. 

Find out more about advanced care planning on agedcare101

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A special thanks to our contributors

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Journalist

Journalist

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

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Ian Horswill

Journalist

Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

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Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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Jill Donaldson

Physiotherapist

Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

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Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

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Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.