Volume 7 Edition 8 Financial Care Services Newsletter
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Financial Care Services Newsletter by Christine Hopper
Independent aged care, lifestyle and financial advice for seniors
Volume 7 Edition 8 – 31 August 2017
Where to live in your senior years when the energy bills are causing stress.
The ability to self-regulate body temperature declines in fragile seniors. A few minutes of vigorous exercise to warm those cold feet is not really an option at age ninety. So we have the heater on continuously just to keep the home moderately warm in winter. Yes, the whole house is heated with all the internal doors kept open to avoid moving from a warm room into a colder space.
Come summer, the place is cooled to a livable temperature by running an air-conditioner all day and half of the night. The heat stress might be replaced by energy bill distress. Maybe an alternative home might be considered; in a new well insulated building. A private serviced apartment where a little help with showering could be discreetly accepted. But a strong minded senior is not going into aged care with all those ‘old people’.
Where to live as a self-funded senior in need of a little personal support
One option is to stay at home and have a carer visit you to help with personal grooming.
You could buy in meals and domestic services as you choose. You select your service providers and determine the level of service you receive. You are then free to change your service levels and service provider as you wish. Alas if your regular carer is sick then your service provider might send someone else or you might have to find an alternative carer for yourself.
Under this option you have choices around how you are charged for these ‘in home’ services. But remember that you must pay the bills including the massive power bills, from your own resources.
This totally private option has no bureaucrats telling you how much assistance you may have and which service providers you may use. But you would be paying the full costs and are unlikely to qualify for income tax or private health insurance rebates.
A second option is to submit to a formal ‘aged care assessment’ for a Commonwealth home care package.
Once you have been allocated a home care package you can ‘spend’ your package benefit on home care services from an approved provider.
You may choose your home aged care provider from a list of providers for your geographic area. You then negotiate the timing and extent of the service to be provided under your package. Yes, the home care package will be debited a ‘package administration’ fee.
The advantages of the home care package are firstly, that your provider ensures that staff are available to visit you. Replacing a sick carer is the provider’s problem not yours. The second advantage is that you might be eligible for some taxpayer subsidy for your home care package. The downside is that Centrelink will determine your means tested home care fee based on your current income and asset position. You must keep Centrelink informed of your financial position.
If you would not be eligible for any taxpayer subsidy then you could be better off with the first option of being totally private. You could then be exempt from paying for a home care package administrator.
But if you are staying at home then you are paying the energy bills. All that heating and cooling for just one person.
A new home in assisted lifestyle living community
A senior of sound mind who just needs a little help to stay independent, could be happy in assisted lifestyle community living. The whole building could be maintained at a comfortable temperature for the elderly. Visiting hairdressers, podiatrist and local medics reduce the need for residents to ever venture outside to experience real weather.
Assisted living residents usually ‘buy’ an apartment within an assisted lifestyle living community. The assisted lifestyle living entry agreement is a serious document about major charges on your money to buy the right to occupy an apartment. Please be sure to understand your entry agreement before you sign the contract. Ask Christine at Financial Care Services to illustrate the dollar amounts and the Centrelink Pension impacts before you sign the contract.
The weekly service fee covers all meals in a communal dining room, social and fitness activities in the communal lounge and a weekly servicing of your apartment. If you need a little personal assistance then you can buy a home care package and have a carer visit you in your new home.
Please be aware that your share of the costs of providing the communal spaces within the assisted lifestyle living community will eventually be payable via a deferred service fee. Your children need to know that you knew about this exit fees and deferred service fee before you signed the contract for the assisted lifestyle living community.
In Victoria, most assisted lifestyle living arrangements are covered by the Retirement Villages legislation. Be sure to obtain independent financial advice before you sign the contract for an assisted lifestyle living apartment.
Christine at Financial Care Services can help you, your Attorney and your children to understand the financial implications of assisted lifestyle living. Contact Christine now to start the independent financial advice. Then have your adult children attend your the Financial Care Services consultation with you.
To start the evaluation email Christine at for the Financial Care Services Lifestyle Community Retirement Village Entrant Personal Financial Facts form to collate the data for independent financial advice. You will also receive the Financial Care Services Financial Services Guide that provides essential information about Financial Care Services.
Seniors who are physically slowing and perhaps a little mentally unreliable, might prefer a private guest house.
Private guest houses for seniors offer residential care and personal support. The level of personal support and supervision varies significantly between facilities. A retired professional could be happy in the smaller homelike environment of a private guest house that only accepts mentally sound seniors who can walk to the dining room.
Another family might choose a private guest house for seniors that provides a significant level of personal support and supervision for an active but less reliable senior.
In Victoria these private guest homes are regulated as Supported Residential Services “SRS”. The regulations emphasize privacy, security and household cleanliness. Each SRS has its own fee scale and personal support offerings.
A self-funded retiree who needs a little personal support and/or supervision together with full domestic services could be happy living in an SRS. The weekly fee for a nice room, all meals and a little personal support could be about twice the Age Pension rate.
In comparison, the maximum hoteling costs for a standard Commonwealth regulated aged care facility could be about ten per cent higher than this SRS cost estimate. In addition, the aged care resident would need to pay a means tested care fee. The options are to provide all of your income and asset data to Centrelink and/or pay the full cost of care as per the Commonwealth ACFI scale. The minimum ACFI daily fee is about $250 per week for medication supervision and personal support for the activities of daily living.
For help with understanding aged care fees and an Illustration of how your family could afford good care contact Christine at Financial Care Services. You can call Christine on 03 9808 0338 to book an appointment.
On balance, a self-funded retiree might be happier in the SRS if she only needs a little personal support. Commonwealth regulated aged care could be more suitable when the care needs are significant and/or the Commonwealth subsidy is important.
SRS could be a less stressful option when the partner of a fulltime worker needs a safe placement urgently. The SRS needs to know that the potential resident fits within its care capacity and that the fees will be paid. But no need for an ACAS assessment or a Centrelink challenge when you place a family member into an SRS.
All of us could review our heating and cooling arrangements to reduce energy bill stress.
Renewing the insulation of our homes could be a worthwhile investment. Solar panels and external blinds could be warranted if you are staying home long term; possibly not a great investment for your ninetieth birthday.
Before you upgrade a senior’s current home consider where she would be best placed in five years’ time.
Consult Christine at Financial Care Services about the options for secure comfortable accommodation for your family members. Advance planning could reduce heat stress and aged care entry distress later.
Christine at Financial Care Services advises client families about the costs of retirement living, residential aged care and home care means tested fees.
The first step to the independent advice for seniors living in assisted living SRS or formal aged care is to email Christine at for the Financial Care Services Aged Care Checklist to collate the data for independent financial advice . You will also receive the Financial Care Services Financial Services Guide that provides information about Financial Care Services.
Financial Care Services your independent financial adviser
Financial Care Services is an independent financial advisory service specialising in retirees of modest means and aged care entrants. Our core values of working with clients in their lifetime financial planning supports claiming DVA and Centrelink entitlements.
Financial Care Services charges fees based on the work involved in advising you about pensions and aged care financial solutions and arranging your investments.
To make an appointment for confidential, independent and professional advice about aged care, retirement lifestyle or financial issues please contact Christine Hopper or call +61 3 9808 0338.
Financial Care Services Pty Ltd
Independent aged care, lifestyle and financial advice for seniors in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Australian Financial Services Licence Number
299570 (check this at www.search.asic.gov.au/fsr/flb.html)
Authorised Representative Number 252529 (check this at www.search.asic.gov.au/fsr/far.html)
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this newsletter is of a general nature only and does not constitute “financial advice”. You should obtain your own personal financial advice before investing any money or moving in to any retirement village, lifestyle community or aged care facility. Financial Care Services is licensed to provide financial advice to individual clients based on their personal situations.
All eligibility for Commonwealth benefits will be determined by Centrelink or DVA, based on your personal position as documented and the legislation and Regulations in force at that time.
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