Popularity surge for “alternative” community aged care in Australia

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Popularity surge for “alternative” community aged care in Australia

More than 60 per cent of older Australians would prefer to ‘age in place’ by staying in their own homes, according to the Housing Decision of Older Australians report, released by the Federal Government’s Productivity Commission.

However, with many older Australians waiting more than 12 months for a home care package at their assessed care level, coupled with research showing the negative health impact of loneliness on seniors, growing old at home is often not the utopia it is thought to be.

This has led to an increasing focus on the provision of “alternative” aged care options offering a medium between the autonomy of home and the safety, social opportunities and care provided in a community setting.

Nick Loudon, chief executive officer at Seasons Aged Care, a group of eight alternative aged care communities located throughout south-east Queensland, said the Seasons’ model offered more autonomy and privacy than a nursing home, yet significantly more care than in a retirement village or private residence.

“We empower our residents to live the way they want, giving them access to the benefits of community living but with high-quality personalised care delivered in their own apartment,” said Mr Loudon.

“Living in a Seasons Aged Care Community can eliminate the social isolation that can occur when people age in their own home. It also provides the peace of mind that care is on site and just a push of a button away in the event of an emergency. You still get to enjoy your privacy and independence, but the support is on hand. That’s comforting to a lot of people.”

Other benefits offered by alternative aged care providers include support for couples who wish to stay together, amongst other liberties most people take for granted.

“We support couples to stay together, small pets are welcome, and the grandkids can stay overnight or up to a couple of weeks,” said Mr Loudon.

Each resident buys their own apartment on a 99-year ‘right to reside’ lease in their chosen community. Apartments come complete with a self-contained kitchen and laundry, with whitegoods included, and some communities have two and three-bedroom options, providing more space for those who want to have family over to stay.

On the financial side of things, there is no income and asset testing meaning residents pay the same ingoing contribution and weekly payment whether they receive a full pension or if they’re a self-funded retiree. The pricing structure is designed to be affordable for those receiving an aged pension, with weekly fees covering general services, maintenance, three meals a day prepared fresh onsite and any surplus funds being allocated towards personal care.

When it comes to care, if residents choose Seasons’ care partner Envigor, they get the peace of mind of a personalised care plan funded through any Government funding they’re granted, including home care package or DVA Nursing, any care funds from their weekly payments and the option to defer extra care costs interest-free against the equity in their apartment.

In the unlikely event a resident uses the value of their equity, Seasons will cover the resident’s care cost for the rest of their stay.

“Everything from accommodation and care options to lifestyle activities can be tailored to ensure that the person is living life their way,” said Mr Loudon.

“This is a philosophy that guides us here at Seasons and it’s why all our residents have their own private apartment with a lock on the door, and their own kitchen and facilities.

“It’s about treating people as individuals. Once we focus on what is really important to a person, we are empowered with the information to help them reach their goals.”