Montana Manning cared for her husband, Stanley, for 15 years after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
But as the progressive condition worsened, she found she could no longer support him at home.
Reluctantly, Montana and Stanley decided it was time for him to move into residential aged care.
The bills started to arrive almost immediately.
‘The daily care fee was very high,’ Montana says.
‘On top of that, there were [additional service] costs.
I got very depressed
‘I couldn’t afford to pay. I was worried I was going to lose my house. I got very depressed.
‘My blood pressure went up every day. It was very dangerous.’
Montana phoned aged care advocate Ramnik Walia, who she describes as her ‘last hope’.
‘For me, getting older, it was very difficult to find the right words, to explain what I needed help for,’ she says.
Ramnik, who works for the Darwin Community Legal Service, one of OPAN’s nine member organisations, helped Montana to communicate her financial situation to Services Australia representatives and to the aged care home, which was regularly sending her invoices.
Your home is your safe haven
‘When your partner is living in residential aged care, and you are on a pension, your home is the only asset you have,’ he says.
‘It’s your safe haven.’
Ramnik also helped Montana, as Stanley’s substitute decision-maker, to gather the necessary documentation she needed to make a successful application for financial hardship assistance.
The file wound up being about 50 documents thick.
After receiving Montana’s application for financial hardship assistance, the Australian Government agreed to pay some of Stanley’s residential aged care fees. The service provider was ordered to refund a portion of the charges for the previous six months.
‘Ramnik solved the problem,’ Montana says.
‘I feel very relieved. I don’t have to worry anymore about what is going to happen.
‘Having someone advocate for me made things so much easier.’
For further information
If you are having issues with costs and fees associated with your government-funded aged care services – at home or in residential care – call OPAN on 1800 700 600.
Learn more about financial hardship assistance here