February 14, 2023


How to prepare for a referral to My Aged Care

You may have been thinking about getting some help for your loved one, but you're not sure where to start. Your starting point is the gateway to all Government subsidised programs, My Aged Care. 

When should I be making a referral to My Aged Care? 

This is one of the most common questions I am asked by the families of ageing Australians.  

This question is often followed by "Should I just let Mum's GP make the referral?"  

Making a referral to My Aged Care takes preparation. It also takes some planning. Before a referral to My Aged Care occurs, there are conversations that need to be had and some action to be taken that will assist you in getting the best outcome from the referral process.  

The recognition that your parents are ageing and may not be managing as well as they used to, within their own home, can be confronting. Our parents have been there for us, supporting us through life and then quietly and almost as if by stealth they are old and relying on us.  

Recognising this situation and knowing how to approach it sensitively will assist with your ageing loved one accepting your concern and being willing to proceed with engaging external support.  

Before you progress a referral to My Aged Care, take some time to reflect on what limitations your ageing parents are experiencing. Think about what you do for them each day or week. The smallest of tasks are important to note.  

You may already be assisting your ageing loved ones with paying their bills, taking them grocery shopping and cooking meals that they can reheat. You might be helping them with mowing their yard or paying for a private cleaner to come into their home to assist with cleaning.  

These simple tasks reflect eligibility for formal services and support under Commonwealth subsidised community care.  

It is imperative that you write all these tasks down and how much time you spend each day or week assisting your ageing loved one with them.  

You then need to consider aspects such as poor personal hygiene, incontinence, weight loss, impaired mobility and impaired cognition or thought processes. These considerations are vital to convey when a referral to My Aged Care occurs. Write any of these concerns down, adding them to the list that will inform the referral to My Aged Care.  

You have one chance to get it right when you refer to My Aged Care, so preparation is key. Don't be caught off guard.  

When you've written your list and have discussed with your ageing parent making a referral to My Aged Care, then you're ready to action that referral.  

There are two ways of making a referral to My Aged Care, via the phone or online. Either way, the preparation you have undertaken already will ensure the likelihood of you being referred to the most appropriate assessment team.  

My Aged Care is a call centre. It is staffed by people with limited understanding of the programs that the Commonwealth subsidises. The My Aged Care call centre staff also have no awareness of what is available in local areas and their conversations are scripted and generic in nature. Hence the importance of you being prepared and steering the conversation in the best direction for your ageing loved one.  

A phone referral or an online referral will require you to answer a series of questions regarding your ageing loved one's ability to complete their activities of daily living. It is important you remove yourself from the situation and answer the questions as if your loved one were alone, trying to complete these activities without your assistance.  

You will be asked how much assistance you provide with a range of daily activities, with the answers 'a little', 'somewhat', 'a lot', or 'unable'.  

If your ageing loved one cannot get out of a chair without you assisting them, then the answer would be 'unable'.  

If your ageing loved one cannot safely shower without you assisting them, then the answer would be 'a lot' or 'unable'.  

If your ageing loved one relies on you to pay their bills for them or set up an auto payment with their bank account, then you would answer 'a lot' or 'unable' to these questions.  

Again, you must remove yourself from your caring role in order to achieve an accurate representation of the support that is required to allow your loved one to remain living in their own home.  

This point of contact with My Aged Care is your opportunity to ensure your aged loved one ends up with the right assessment team. It is your opportunity to get it right at this point of referral. YOU need to drive this conversation. 

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