Where we last left off, I was left waving a white flag trying to get some assistance for Dad to shower when he had a broken wrist.
We struggled along and after a couple of
hiccoughs disasters with a reaction to a new dressing then an infection, his ulcer started slowly improving and the dressing only needed changing every two days. I decided to do this myself without including XYZCare, thinking it would not be too long from being healed. Six weeks later and that damn ulcer is still not completely healed. BUT Dad is happier and I am able to do the dressing change first thing in the morning for him.
However, for me, what had been once ‘popping in’ to see Dad once a day, dropping dinner down and having a game of cribbage, became several hours a day some days, with shopping, visits to the doctor, chemist, bank, the library, church, haircuts etc etc. Coupled with ongoing chronic pain I was starting to struggle. I know how lucky I am – my Dear Old Dad says ‘thank you’ to me every single day, and is rarely grumpy or cranky, and his big smile, even in dire circumstances, makes me happy. But I knew I needed help.
I had been following the story of Five Good Friends* since its inception – it seemed to me to be a home care service with a real service mentality. As Dad had already been approved for a Level 2 Home care package through ACAT, I gave Five Good Friends a call to find out more and they were able to explain exactly what it meant, how much it was worth and what it would cost Dad, or me. Which was nothing! Not only that, but I had a real person to talk to, who gave me her mobile phone number and email address. No pressing ‘1’ for this or ‘2’ for that and talking to a different person each time. I was sold on their model and their very real service mindset for the elderly people their carers look after, and the technology they were going to be using for us to be able to communicate directly with the carers coming to help Dad. The new Consumer Directed Care rules from February 27 this year, made choosing the care provider easier and meant that all care could be provided by the one organisation even if not necessarily the same person, depending on the tasks. It helped enormously that the two ladies who came to visit, both admired Oscar. That pretty much sold Dad who was originally a bit dubious about having strangers coming in to visit.
But wait! (of course). As we had not used the approved package before, I had to call My Aged Care (horrors) to activate the package. Thinking somewhat foolishly this would be an easy process, (yeah, you’d think all optimism would have been destroyed by now) I gathered all of Dad’s and my identification and referral numbers, took a deep breath and made the call.
In short, because I wanted the care package to start soon-ish because of some medical treatment of my own, this elevated the request to ‘urgent’. Which meant that they had to do a WHOLE NEW ACAT TEST. WHICH WOULD TAKE 1-2 WEEKS. I am not making this up.
So, I wearily asked the person on the phone, Dad has to have another ACAT test, where he will be asked the same questions, and all but about two of the questions would have the same answer, in order to activate a service that had already been approved? Yes. Yes that was and is in fact correct.
I *may* have sworn. I *may* have referred to the system as a total waste of taxpayers’ money, while assuring the person on the phone I was not upset with her at all, but the dreadful system she worked in. She agreed with me and said it was all terribly complicated.
The absurdity of this situation officially reached peak levels.
So My Aged Care activated another plan, the Commonwealth Home Support Package service, which they were able to do with the push of a button, with the referral going through to Five Good Friends straight away. They will choose an appropriate person for Dad based on his needs (as discussed) and introduce him or her to Dad. Once ACAT is done (again) and the level 2 home care package approved (again), his approval will go into a queue. The carer won’t change but new forms will need to be completed to change over from the current CHSP.
And we will be underway. Even Oscar is exhausted by the bureaucracy and felt the need for a bit of hand holding. I can feel my teeth unclenching and my shoulder blades starting to unhinge from my ear lobes. The relief is palpable.
* #notsponsored #justverygrateful
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My name is Margaret and I am in the youngest (and naughtiest, as I was once described) of three children to my parents. My mother died very suddenly and unexpectedly more than 6 years ago, and since then I have been caring for, and caring about, my elderly father who is now 94. My siblings live some distance away and visit often, and my sister has Dear Old dad to stay a couple of times a year; but most importantly, they, and in particular my sister, provide emotional scaffolding to me when needed. I have been meaning to write about our adventures for some time, and having now decided to leave a much loved career, I think I will have the time to tell some stories – some funny, some sad, some angry.