As a Planned Activity Group Supervisor for 15 years in Independent Community Health Services, one of the most difficult things is that when our clients have to leave their home and go into Residential Care or a Nursing Home, there is a crossover time of a couple of weeks then because of funding parameters and policy, we are unable to have them attend our groups anymore.
The effect this has on the person can be devastating.
One example of many clients this happened to ... we will call her Joan (not her real name).
Joan had been attending my group for over 10 years.
Joan lived in a unit with her son, they cared for each other. Joan’s mobility was poor, her son slight mental health issues, but they lived happily together.
Joan woke one day to find her son had passed away in his sleep. She of course, was devastated and shocked like all of us, as this was never anticipated.
She came back to the group almost immediately, her friends, her support, was the group.
She had a platform of trust and was able to work through this very difficult time.
Joan made very good progress and we watched her become happier and healing.
Eventually, Joans daughter felt worried about Joan living by herself, and found a lovely supported residential care place for her to move into.
I knew what this meant.
Joan would not be able to come to the group anymore.
One of the hardest things I have ever had to do, was to explain to Joan that because of Policy and the way funding was set up - that she would not be able to attend the group anymore.
Her first reaction was, but I pay, I can pay more, I can get a taxi ...
It's heartbreaking for all concerned.
My solution to this: change policy, change the funding structure, change whatever has to be changed, so that this does not keep happening. For a person leaving their home to go into care, it is such a huge adjustment, and grieving process, but for any activity that they can realistically continue to take part in, don’t set things up in such a way that they have to totally cut off from everything and everyone they know, this is not helping the person at all but only adding to their already difficult circumstances and huge life change.
There is much that could be done to help the person stay connected to parts of their life outside of the care facility that they go into.
The Community Aged Care Hub we are suggesting in the Solving Aged Care section of the website, aims to move the entire focus of aged care away from the myagedcare.gov.au control system and place it in the community. Decisions would be made there. The structure would be subservient to the needs of the community and made to serve them rather than control them. This would be a "joint venture" in which the role of central government departments would be to support, guide and mentor the community organisations but not to control them.
Politicians and their departments don't see it this way. As a small group, we don't have the power to change this. We can only highlight the flaws in the system and suggest ways of overcoming them. If as a community, we see this as a better way and are prepared to make the effort, then if we all work together we can make it happen.