Moving house is considered one of the most unsettling life events and can be particularly stressful for older people moving from their home into residential care. If the move is a result of a medical crisis or done quickly with little time to prepare, this can add to the distress. And if your loved one is experiencing dementia, moving into residential care can be confusing and frightening.
However, there are many things we can do to support our loved one to make the transition as smooth as possible.
If possible, spend time talking to your loved one about the move, asking their opinion and ensuring they are included in decision making. Take time to emphasise the positive aspects of moving such as new friends, specialised care and recreational activities that will be on offer. If possible, visit the facility on several occasions leading up to the final move.
Understand the costs
Spend time understanding what costs will be met by the government and what will need to be met from the assets of an older person. Depending on the facility, recreational activities can be an additional cost so planning for this is recommended. For further information on how costs are calculated visit the My Aged Care website.
Become familiar with the facility beforehand
If you can, visit the residential facility and join the residents for a meal. Have conversations with staff and ask questions that help you and your loved one prepare for what’s likely to happen, and address any hesitations, fears or concerns.
Have open, respectful conversations with all family members about the transition
Have conversations with family member so that everyone is aware of the potential challenges and the benefits of moving to a supported care facility. Try to include your loved one in these conversations, even if this is difficult. As a family you may establish a visiting roster and plan for special events such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Make it home
Aim to keep lifestyle and surroundings as familiar as possible. Find out what possessions are allowed, as there will be limits. Put time and effort into your loved ones most important treasures such as photos, music, trinkets or a favourite chair. Consider creating a scrapbook about the person, including information, photos and stories – to focus on happy memories and achievements and help staff to learn more about the older person and what’s important to them.
Make time to visit
It is common for people living in residential care to experience feelings of abandonment and loneliness.
While there is no right number of times to visit, it’s important to make each visit as rewarding as possible. If possible, engage in activities, a card game, stroll in the garden or an outing to the local café.
It is often best to try to visit very soon after placement. If you are unsure about how frequently you should visit, speak with the staff.
My Aged Care offers comprehensive information on the process of moving into residential aged care.
My Aged Care also provide guidelines for reporting or managing any concerns or complaints about an aged care facility, Home Care Package or Commonwealth Home Support Program.
The Alzheimer’s Australia’s website provides information on dementia and helpful tips for investigating residential care.
Elder Relationship Service
Our Elder Relationship Services provides counselling and mediation support to assist older people and their families to:
- prevent or resolve family conflict;
- have difficult conversations;
- plan for the future (including medical, health,
- financial or living arrangements);
- resolve differences in ways that improve their
- make decisions that protect the interests, rights and
safety of families.
You can attend the service on your own, with your partner, as a family, or your children or parent(s) can come by themselves.
Attending the Elder Relationship Service is voluntary and confidential. The decisions you make are not legally binding. If you would like to put your agreements in writing, your practitioner can assist you.
More information available here:
Supporting Emotional Wellness
If you have an older relative in a residential facility, in the metro Adelaide area, they may eligible for our Supporting Emotional Wellness (SEW) program.
The SEW Program provides free, onsite mental health services for residents of Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) experiencing, or at risk of developing, mild to moderate mental health conditions. The service involves qualified mental health clinicians providing short term, evidence based individual therapy as well as therapeutic and low intensity groups (e.g. transition and sleep hygiene groups) to eligible residents.
More information available here: