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My Aged Care – “Wouldn’t be without them”

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After 19 years on the road, it was inevitable that my beloved Volvo V70 wagon would catch a cold and break down some time.

As these things happen, it halted right at the entry to the carpark for my rooms.

Unable to get it going again, for the first time ever, I called my Auto Club’s breakdown service for help.

Their motto is, “Wouldn’t be without them” and, true to their word, within 15 minutes their mechanic arrived.

He took a brief history, turned the ignition on a couple of times, primed the fuel pump, and then presto, I was back on the road.

It’s very comforting to know that for $86 per year wherever you are, help is always at hand.

I estimate that a 19-year-old car is pushing the equivalent of 95 human years, so I treat the old girl with a lot of respect and tender loving care.

Just the way you might support an elderly member of the family still living at home.

But, with health problems surfacing for an elderly relative, I have some concerns about the complexity of accessing help for our beloved.

For starters, there’s a thing called My Aged Care.

There was a 45 minute phone call to take the details, and a faxed copy of an Enduring Power of Attorney verified that I was authorized to act on behalf of the relative.

All’s well and good, so far.

Then there was an appointment for an assessment lined up.

But the assessor was a no-show and it took four days to track her down, upon which she advised that the assessment was next week and not last week, even though that wasn’t what she had said and verified in her text message.

Not wanting to bite the hand that feeds you, we met subsequently and from then on things went further astray.

There was a text message from her on a Saturday afternoon and a phone call on a Sunday morning.

Unfortunately, the assessor said she’d assessed the husband, when it was actually the wife.

Oh, by the way, she also failed to identify that there were cognitive problems, which were the original reason for the referral in the first place.

Easily sorted, but then you are asked to wait for a call from a care provider.

Days turned into weeks and, eventually, a call back to My Aged Care shed more light on the lack of progress as the assessor had not “issued” the request to any care providers.

All sorted again, and copious apologies from the call centre.

On track at last. But then came another phone call from someone else at My Aged Care, offering to assess the applicant.

I’m always happy to accept help, but hadn’t that already happened?

Finally, after eight weeks of frustration, the care providers started to call.

But the advice was, ”You’d be better off with a package”.

Against the odds, I called ACAT directly, explained the situation and asked for help.

No hold-ups this time, and everything about their recommendations was put in writing.

Throughout all of this my elderly relative kept asking, “How do people cope who don’t have any friends or family to help them?”

I would ask exactly the same question.

Friends and family, “Wouldn’t be without them”.

Safe motoring,

Doctor Clive Fraser