A working mother, with three children, left shocked and grief-stricken when her previously healthy, 73-year-old father suddenly needs 24-hour care.
A devoted husband of 50 years devastated by the fact he can no longer care for his sweetheart, whose dementia has become too much for them both.
An ageing couple whose deteriorating health means they have to leave the home they raised their family in more than 30 years ago.
These are just some of the real people Mater Aged Placement Service has been able to help.
Facing the reality that a loved one needs the services and support of a quality residential aged care facility can be extremely hard–whether it’s your partner of 50 years who you can no longer care for, or an ageing parent who needs more support than you can offer.
But making the decision that a full-time facility is right for your circumstances is just the first step in a long journey that can feel overwhelming from the outset.
Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone.
A private, aged care consultancy service, Mater Aged Placement Service (MAPS) uses its network and expertise to guide you and your loved one through the process of selecting a facility that suits your specific needs.
“Recognising that a loved one needs to go into a residential aged care facility is very emotional,” says MAPS team leader and social worker, Natalie Lanyon. “Carers are dealing with so many feelings of grief and loss, even guilt, over no longer being able to care for their family member at home. Some are heartbroken.”
A personal aged care consulting service
While patients may be referred by a hospital or health service, your journey with MAPS can start with a simple phone call. You will talk to an aged care consultant, who will listen to your situation and talk you through the process to see if it’s right for you.
“We’re a small team,” says Natalie. “It’s not a situation where you’re talking to a different person every time you call or hear from us. Having to repeat your story over and over is stressful and difficult, but you’ll never have to do that with us.”
Natalie says this close relationship with clients is just one of the many things that sets MAPS apart.
“One elderly husband whose wife had dementia and could no longer be cared for at home was quite simply heartbroken at having to make this decision,” Natalie says. “But he did say that being able to talk to someone at MAPS helped him feel supported and understood. It gave him the peace of mind that he was doing the right thing.”
Once you’ve decided that the service is right for you and your family, a home visit is arranged. “We meet people wherever is best for them, be that at home or in a hospital or rehab facility,” says Natalie. “Where possible, the loved one being placed will also be present. They are very much a part of the process.”
During the home visit Natalie talks to the family to gain a greater understanding of their needs and priorities.
“Obviously the most important thing is that their loved one is cared for with kindness and dignity. But there are other factors we keep in mind. An important one is location–the carer may want to visit their loved one regularly, so being placed in a facility far away isn’t going to work.
“Other lifestyle factors are also considered. Things like access to religious services, or being in a facility that has a high representation from a particular culture, can also be very important.”
Caring for the carer
While the patient’s needs are at the forefront, Natalie says that MAPS is also focused on the carer.
“Carers are worn out. They may be elderly themselves, with their own health issues. Younger carers could be juggling small children, work and other demands, on top of looking after an elderly parent.
“Doctors and nurses in a hospital get breaks, they get to go home at the end of a shift. Carers living with a loved one don’t get that respite.
“We want to make sure the new situation is going to be sustainable for them. Driving three hours twice a week to visit their loved one isn’t going to work.”
The right place for you
The ethos of the consultancy service is based on Mater’s reputation for patient-centred care. With a database of around 100 quality aged care facilities, within a 35-kilometre radius of Brisbane, the service makes the decision about where to place people based entirely on what is best for the family involved. MAPS has no formal affiliation with any aged care facilities and is not paid or remunerated by any of the companies that it suggests.
“Families come to us very anxious that the aged care facility their loved one is placed in is of high quality. We constantly monitor feedback from clients, which we take into account when selecting the right place for patients. If a facility cuts corners or isn’t up to scratch, we don’t put them forward to the families we work with.”
Once the specific needs of both patient and carer are understood, MAPS lists up to 10 appropriate facilities and, where there is availability, tours for the family are arranged.
“We liaise with the facilities and the family, setting up dates and times, but it’s the families who attend the actual tours. There they can see for themselves and know for sure that a facility can meet all of their needs.”
Adjusting to a new normal
Once a decision has been made, the family reports back to the consultancy team, who then arrange all of the paperwork and discharge orders if a hospital is involved.
A follow-up call two weeks after placement is an important part of the journey, says Natalie, admitting that the change of situation can be hard on everyone.
“For the carer, while there may be a sense of relief, there can also be a huge void left by the absence of that person in the home.
“Some couples have been married for decades and never lived apart. A son or daughter who has devoted all of their time to the care of a parent may feel a huge sense of loss.
“Adjusting and learning how to live a new life can be difficult. When talking to families, we may recommend seeking support from a GP to people who are struggling and need some ideas about how to take care of their mental welfare.”
By offering both practical and emotional support, MAPS aims to help people navigate what can be an overwhelming time.
“Making the decision that a loved one needs the care and support that a quality residential aged care facility can provide can be difficult,” admits Natalie. “But we can make the rest of the process easier by taking on the practical burden and finding the right solution for the whole family.”
Mater Aged Placement Service is a service within Mater. If you would like to know more about the services Mater Aged Placement Service can offer, including fees and Terms and Conditions, click here or call 07 3163 3866 or mobile 0409 626 708. Referrals are not required.