Plenty of expats in Singapore, including Australians, have elderly parents or other family members in their home countries. With the events of 2020, it has become increasingly difficult to return to Australia to check on the health and welfare of those loved ones in person. This sense of isolation – on both sides – can be distressing. It can elevate the already heightened emotions that tend to surround caring for elderly parents, and aged care in general.
If you’re in this position, what can you do? We spoke with WHENUA ONER from Family Aged Care Advocates about the services they can provide Singapore-based Australians, including tailor-made solutions to help make good care decisions for elders from afar.
Tell us a bit about the work of Family Aged Care Advocates.
We’re able to provide a comprehensive bespoke service to help older Australians plan for and access the most appropriate care for their needs and expectations. We know that many expats living away, including in Singapore, have elderly parents in Australia. And with current COVID-19 travel restrictions and also work pressures it can be difficult if not impossible to be able to respond to a crisis such as a fall.
What are some of the specific ways you can help?
Families sometimes become aware that there is a general decline, but they’re not sure where to start; and maybe there is a reluctance from their loved one to get any type of care.
If this sounds like your situation, we can work with you to understand what’s happening and what’s expected. Together, we can plan the best way forward to enable older family members to age with dignity on their terms. Among the services we offer that can be useful in these times include our Family Conference; this can be facilitated virtually (via Zoom) as well as in person.
Another is a Falls Risk Assessment. This involves us visiting the older person’s home and completing a comprehensive review; we then provide a plan to proactively prevent or reduce the risk of falls.
Falls often occur in quite independent elders, but they can fast-track the need for care considerably. Many falls result in fractures and hospitalisations and often the person can’t go back to their previous way of life. When this occurs, there is often pressure on the family to make important decisions quickly.
What about the matter of arranging home or residential care, and the financial issues around that?
Depending on what stage you and the older member of the family are at, we can also support the person to access the My Aged Care gateway and start the process of access to federally funded aged care.
If they already have approval for some level of care, whether it be home care or residential care, we can help with the process of choosing the best provider for them. This includes assisting with financial planning. All federally funded aged care is means tested through the Australian Centrelink system; it can be a complex and unwieldy process with significant ramifications if it’s completed incorrectly. We can completely manage this time-consuming process on behalf of families.
Finding the right provider of care is easier when there’s a better understanding about what needs your elder has and what your expectations are. We do this through our Dignity Plan process, which is a cornerstone service of ours. After we’ve completed this, we’re then able to better understand what is really important. We review the providers available and provide you a list of three that we think will best meet your needs and expectations.
What assistance can you provide after the provider has been chosen and the specialised care has begun?
First, we can continue to keep an eye on the care being provided through our Membership Services, which means we regularly check to ensure that you’re getting the service you expect and that your money is being spent as per the budget – particularly with our home care clients.
Alternatively, we can just be engaged if concerns pop up that you need exploring. In short, we can be your voice and advocate when you cannot be here in person.
For more helpful tips, head to our Living in Singapore section.