Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The best option is still not going to be easy

Today I helped a much-loved family member settle into an Aged Care facility.

It's a beautiful place. Lovely gardens. Bright, spacious rooms. Caring staff. Close to her friends, church and hairdresser. Her room looks so homely. It's full of her own things, her hand-made quilts, photos albums, ornaments. The place will even let her cats live in her room!!!!!

It was something that my family had been working toward for several months. We had been watching the decline of Beryl* over time. We had liaised with doctors and the local pharmacist to ensure she was on the right medications and taking the correct doses regularly. We installed a medical alert system at home. There were family members and neighbour's checking on Beryl every couple of days. But a major medical crisis late last year brought Beryl's independent lifestyle to a screeching, traumatic halt.

Seeing the impending crisis and knowing that we needed to be ready when Beryl needed greater care, my family had been discussing different scenarios. Was it realistic for Beryl to stay in her home? Did Beryl need to move in with one of us? Could we manage Beryl's increasing medical needs? Did we need to find an Aged Care facility for Beryl to move into?

Having looked at the situation from every conceivable angle and chatting with a variety of medical professionals who were working with Beryl, we knew that our only option was to locate a suitable Aged Care facility. We didn't know where to start. What forms did we need to fill out? How much would permanent care cost? What kind of place would be suitable? How do we go about finding vacancies? 

To cut a 5 month story short, we found an Aged Care Consultant who listened to our concerns, understood our priorities in finding a suitable Aged Care facility, showed us the paperwork we needed to fill out and gave us a list of facilities to investigate. Employing the services of an expert in Aged Care was one of the best decisions we made. The fact of the matter was that no-one in our family are experts in navigating the Victorian aged care system. Between my family members, we are experts in education, counselling, administration and data management. We are experts in our own fields, but not in the field that Beryl needed. Trusting someone else to help us navigate the 'system' wasn't always easy and we had a few hiccups along the way, but we had to admit that we didn't have all the knowledge we needed to make the right choice.

So here I am, at the end of a very long emotional week. After looking at 4 different facilities that each had their strengths and drawbacks, we decided upon one that ticked every box. Even after we had moved in Beryl's favourite furniture and nic-nacs, I sent a text to my sister saying "we are doing the right thing aren't we?'. To which my she wrote back, 'of course we are, she can't go home because she can't look after herself.' 

When I spoke to Beryl late this afternoon, she was a pretty upset with me! She didn't like the facility we had chosen for her. She thought her room was small and dark. The people were unfriendly. She genuinely believes that we have made the wrong choice for her. However, Beryl's age and stage of life means that she can't possibly understand all the factors that we took into account in placing her in this particular Aged Care facility. She is responding to her feelings and observations from just a few hours in a brand new environment. She needs time to reconcile her expectations with the reality and to appreciate the benefits of where she is now. It's possible she may never appreciate why this particular place stood out as the only place we felt comfortable with. But you know what - I'm okay with that. My family have done our absolute best with the resources and information we had available to us coupled with our genuine love and concern for Beryl. 

Selecting the right educational option for our children is a similar experience. We know and love our children. We know how we want them to feel about school. So we ask for advice and hunt around to find the right place for our child to spend the coming year of schooling.

If your child has come home from school today feeling disheartened or nervous about the year ahead - remember how carefully you chose this particular educational option for your child. Remember that you did everything you could to give them a great year. Don't let a less than enthusiastic start to school discourage you, but keep encouraging, supporting and listening to your child as they get stuck into Term One.

*Not her real name

If you have genuine concerns about your child's ability to manage the pressures of the year ahead, give me a call on 0425 792 189 for an obligation free chat about the options before you.


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