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People often joke, when filling out the paperwork for aged care services, that a degree in accounting would come in handy.
Queensland advocate Heidri Brook isn’t about to argue.
“I have a masters in social work, but my initial degree was in accounting,” she says.
“And I used to work in finances in an aged care facility.”
Heidri is one of a team of specialist financial advocates currently employed by the Older Persons Advocacy Network’s (OPAN) nine member organisations.
Their job is to help older people with increasingly complex calculations around aged care financing arrangements.
“Residential aged care is a good example,” says Heidri.
“The assessment process – and how [providers] work out people’s income and assets – is quite a difficult space.
“People are signing contracts in a moment of stress – they think ‘if I don’t sign it, I will have nowhere to live and I can’t manage at home’.
“Later on, they realise it might not have been the best way to manage the funds.
“Or they might have just been assessed wrongly on their income and assets and they are paying a lot more than they need to, or are able to afford.”
If an older person decides to switch home care providers, Heidri can help them get value for money by helping them understand how aged care fees are calculated.
“We look at a few providers to compare costs. We tell them what we want – four hours of this, two hours of that – each fortnight and they do a budget for us.
“That allows us to get a clearer picture of what will be left over at the end of the month, because individual fees can be quite confusing.
“One provider might charge $40 for a cleaner where another charges $55. But the second provider might charge less for travel or package management.
“It’s better to look at the total picture.”
If you need help with your government funded aged care or home care costs, call OPAN on 1800 700 600.
Heidri Brook was a panel member at our webinar, Understanding Home Care Packages. Watch the replay.