With an aged care system nearing capacity, what do we need to do today to plan for tomorrow?
Aged Care Services – three critical things you need to consider in your financial planning
How social evolution is driving aged care financial planning
If you’re an avid news watcher (yes, I’m a nerd), you may know the details of the Aged Care Royal Commission hearings. Even though they were focussed on quality and safety, this is inextricably linked to funding. Which is linked to financials. That’s where I come in.
And interestingly, even though I focus purely on the financial planning elements of aged care, one of the critical things that the Royal Commission highlighted for me wasn’t financial – it was social. And it made me realise why, more so now than ever before, it’s critical we’re proactive in financially planning for aged care.
How improving life expectancy is causing problems in aged care
It’s no secret we’re living longer, thanks to medical science and improved lifestyle choices. This begs the question – how will our aged care residential facilities be placed over the next 20 years as our need for more of them increases?
Socially, we’re in the middle of a shift. At one point in time, it was predominantly women who stayed home as the caregivers. They were once expected to give up their jobs to care for parents or add parental care to the daily routine of caring for their own children.
Families can’t afford to take on these responsibilities. And with many women continuing their careers after having children, residential or home care aged services for an elderly relative is often the only option. Coupled with the trend that the elderly are less likely to live with adult children in the future, it appears we’re facing quite complex challenges for already stretched families.
So… what’s the answer?
Plan now, prevent pain tomorrow – crunching the numbers for aged care
Helping clients cope with the emotional and financial needs of aged care is what I do. And I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it’s not easy – some clients struggle with intense feelings of guilt and overwhelm. It’s not something that can be removed completely, but we can certainly dial down the overwhelm with planning.
A lot of people find themselves battling incredible pressure, time restraints and even family tensions. It’s tough to research, secure and pay for the right aged care services when you’re starting with a blank slate, so here are the top three things I would start considering.
Your Essentials Checklist: Aged Care Financial Planning
Essential 1: Research the aged care industry and understand how payment works
In July 2014 the Australian Government introduced several changes to the residential and aged care accommodation care fees rules. One of the most significant of these was means-testing.
Aged care is primarily a user-pays business model, with many residents expected to pay a portion of their care and accommodation costs themselves. Whether they do, and how much, is determined by an assessment of their personal financial circumstances.
Residents receiving a full aged pension will likely receive a complete government subsidy, less their daily care fee deducted from the pension. Shares and investments can affect your assessment, as can savings.
Make sure you understand your options and rights, and how means-testing will affect you. Write a list of questions as you go, which you can work through with your financial planner.
Essential 2: Compare your options – financially, that is
Investigate each option available to you and weight up the costs.
- Are you better off financially to pay a lump sum payment to your chosen aged care provider, or would you benefit from making daily care payments?
- How might those lump sums compare against potentially investing them over the same period?
- Is selling your loved one’s home to pay for residential aged care fees going to give you the most significant financial benefit?
The last thing you want is to be forced to make a high-pressure decision that has long-term consequences.
I know it sounds boring, but draw up a cash flow projection for the next three years and run the numbers. Recent reforms have made it a requirement for aged care providers to make their accommodation pricing public, so exploring the financial options with a measured approach will ensure that your decisions are informed and considered.
Essential 3: Explore facilities and devise a yes/no/maybe checklist
Compare various local facilities to see what you like, and what you don’t. Take the time to think about your priorities, and jot them down.
One of the best things about the Australian aged care system is that it’s regulated under the Australian Accreditation Program, which sets the minimum quality standards. But perhaps you want more than the minimum? If you’re after modern premises, superior accommodation, extra services, and advanced technology, then prioritise your ‘wants’. If care is key, ask questions about staff-to-resident ratios, training requirements, numbers of nurses on overnight duty, and other questions.
Do you know your financial position in relation to aged care?
The aged care system is undeniably complex, and the fee system even more so. And while recent reforms are designed to make the system easier to navigate (such as the My Aged Care gateway, which provides a single portal for accessing government-funded services), ready access to information can be challenging.
When you’re making financial and care decisions on behalf of a loved one, investment in education and awareness is a small price to pay. And if you’re unsure about your options – or even where to start – I’m more than happy to help.
This is general information and does not consider your circumstances. Before acting on such information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your personal objectives, financial situation or needs.
Book an appointment with us here or call us on 02 9629 1866.
Important Information: This information is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your particular financial needs, circumstances and objectives. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, it is not guaranteed. You should obtain professional advice before acting on the information contained in this publication.
Creo Wealth Pty Ltd ABN 96 605 894 415 is a Corporate Authorised Representative (No. 1236172) of ClearView Financial Advice Pty Limited ABN 89 133 593 012 AFS Licence No. 331367 GPO Box 4232, Sydney NSW 2001