Deciding which aged care home to choose is like buying your first home. You want to love the place that you are going to live in. This is one of life’s big decisions.

Just like buying a house, it is not an easy decision to make. Undoubtedly, there will be compromises to be made, but for the most part, one will want to move into a home that has all the facilities and amenities one requires to live comfortably.

Here the top 10 questions to ask before you choose an aged care home.

1.     What is the cost?

It is the most important factor in the equation. Costs vary between homes, some are exorbitantly priced, while others are cheap and you get what you pay for. When considering how much to pay, you need to understand how much you can afford to pay and what the included services are. There are strong protections in place to ensure that care is affordable for everyone. The Australian Government regulates the maximum costs you may have to pay. However, there is a basic daily fee used to contribute towards your day-to-day living costs such as meals, cleaning, laundry, heating and cooling.  Then there is the accommodation payment, some people have these costs met in full or in part by the Australian Government, while others will need to pay the accommodation price agreed with the aged care home.

 2.     What is the Staff Resident Ratio?

Care is important and while there are no mandated numbers regulating staff to residents ratios, it is important to ensure there is sufficient skilled staff on hand to provide care.

3.     Do you have Registered Nurses on all shifts?

Despite recent changes to the Aged Care Act which could have a knock-on effect on NSW legislation and remove the requirement to have registered nurses in nursing homes 24/7, it is imperative nurses be on staff at all times within the home. Nurses add a level of care that gives residents peace of mind. A Registered Nurse oversees medications, managed specialised nursing care needs, minimises unnecessary transfers to emergency departments and provides palliative care.

4.     Are you Accredited?

To make sure you’re receiving the best care possible, all aged care homes need to meet certain (ADDIT: Accreditation Standards) standards. These standards are called the residential aged care Accreditation Standards, and aged care homes need to meet them in order to receive government subsidies.

5.     Can we bring our own furniture, and fridge?

The best part of moving into a new home is bringing some of your old items with you. If you have items you just can’t let go of, find a place that allows you to bring your important pieces along with you.

6.     Can we go on holidays?

If you want to go on a holiday or visit family and friends you can leave your aged care home for up to 52 nights in a financial year. Any nights you stay away count as ‘social leave’, and during this time the Australian Government will continue to pay the appropriate subsidies to your aged care home on your behalf. However, you’ll still have to pay your daily fees and income-tested fees (Pre Reforms terminology).  This means that all current fees and charges are applicable, but you won’t have to pay anything extra.

7.     What choices do you have with the meals?

There has been a lot of debate over food standards in aged care facilities in recent years. In fact, last year food doyen Maggie Beer started a crusade against poor meal preparation practice.  Some homes may be bound by unrealistically low budgets, restrictive food safety regulations and overstretched staff. However, there are homes that provide real catering and in-house chef services, look for those.

8.     What external services do you provide?

No one wants to be stuck in a room all day. Some homes have a range of services and programs including lifestyle and recreational programs such as an access to the theatre room, BBQ areas, lounges, library, hairdresser and potentially a cafe.

9.     Do you have visiting Doctors?

Clinical care is imperative. Not only should nurses be on stand-by, but some homes allow you to have your own doctor come in, someone you know and someone who knows your health history well.

10.   Can you have visitors?

Some aged care homes regulate visitor’s traffic heavily. Make sure you ask the regularity at which your friends and family are allowed to visit you.

Find out the answers to these questions before making any decision about the facility you want to move in!