For people 65 years or over there is a national system called “My Aged Care”. You can find information via their website: My Aged Care or phone 1800 200 422. My Aged Care also has a one minute introductory video. Information from My Aged Care is available in 22 different languages and the website provides options for people with visual or hearing impairment.
If you are enquiring on behalf of the person you support, you will need to be appointed as a representative. This can be done over the phone the first time you call. Even if you don’t feel you need to be appointed as a representative now, starting early is helpful. If in the future the person you support is unable or unwilling to appoint you, it is a much more involved process.
There are four steps to getting services:
- Step 1: My Aged Care will ask about your situation to determine if the person you support is eligible for services.
- Step 2: Once eligibility is determined, you will need to provide information about the person you support, including personal and financial details. These forms are quite detailed and can take time to fill out.
- Step 3: My Aged Care will arrange for an assessor, usually a health professional or trained assessor to come to the home to conduct a face-to-face assessment. You might need to wait a few months to get an assessment. The assessors usually speak with carers as well as the person with dementia and look around the home to suggest things that could be helpful for the person. Following this assessment, you will receive a letter advising if the person you support has been approved for the service or not.
- Step 4: You then need to find the right service provider for the person you support and you. My Aged Care has a postcode service finder which helps you see the providers in your area. It can be quite daunting to know which service provider to use. Ask friends for recommendations. Support group contacts are often particularly knowledgeable. Speak to a few providers about their services and ask about the training they give their staff about dementia.
Jai Sun knew it was important for Daiyu to have someone who spoke Cantonese to come to the house and help with housework and shopping. Daiyu had never been particularly fluent in English and it was getting harder for her with her dementia. Jai Sun talked to a couple of service providers to see if they could provide Cantonese speaking staff.
Helen was a very private lady who had particular ways she liked things done. Mary (daughter) knew that some services sent different people on different days and Helen would find this very difficult. Mary was careful to ask service providers she spoke with about how they would help her mother find the right person that she felt comfortable with and who would come consistently to assist her mother with housework, meals and social outings.
Even if your person is eligible, there are long waiting lists for services. Starting the process of obtaining services well before things become urgent is very important. It can take time to find a good fit for your person’s situation.