A guiding hand for vulnerable older people
The Royal Commission into aged care illuminated the intricate and, often, perplexing nature of the aged care system. For many older people, understanding and accessing the right services can be a daunting task. This challenge is further exacerbated for those who face linguistic barriers, cognitive difficulties, or could mistrust the system due to past experiences or preconceptions.
My Aged Care is the central gateway for people to learn about and avail aged care services and it is helpful for many people. However, rising demand and the unique challenges people face increase the need for a more personalised touch. The 2017 Legislated Review of Aged Care underscored this sentiment. The review took a comprehensive look into the state of aged care and captured feedback from a multitude of stakeholders. One common thread that emerged was the need for face-to-face support.
Enter Care Finders
This initiative, born out of the Royal Commission’s findings, is laser-focused on vulnerable older people who, due to various reasons, are at risk of slipping through the cracks. Whether it’s because they don’t have family support, have language barriers, or simply are overwhelmed by the complexity of the system, Care Finders is able to assist.
This is where Liz and her team step in
In the heart of Western Sydney, nestled within the Hills Shire and Blacktown LGA, is a beacon of hope for vulnerable older people: The Aspire4Life Care Finder team.
A nurse with a mission
Liz, with 23 years of dedicated nursing under her belt, has witnessed firsthand the struggles older people face in emergency departments across New South Wales. But it wasn’t just her professional experience that compelled her to take on the role of Team Leader for Care Finder in her area; it was personal too. The challenges her own grandparents faced in their ageing years resonated deeply with her, sparking a passion to ensure no older person had to navigate the complexities of the aged care system alone.
“It’s a beautiful program where I get to assist other people’s families,” shares Liz with a sense of pride.
Community allies with a vision
Liz’s team, a group of 5 specialists from various fields like nursing, community social work, home care case management, and aged care assessment, are not just colleagues but local residents of Western Sydney. Their hybrid work model allows them flexibility, yet they’re always on the move, meeting clients or liaising with industry peers to enhance support initiatives.
Together, they support approximately 150 clients, and this number is expected to grow rapidly. But they’re more than ready, with Liz confidently stating, “We’re ready to support anyone who needs us through the Care Finder program. Leave no vulnerable person behind.”
“Even though the program is relatively new, the team has jumped in headfirst with a client centred focus to support vulnerable older people. They’re genuinely compassionate people and I couldn’t be prouder to be working alongside them.”
How Care Finder is transforming lives
At its core, Care Finder is about personalised, face-to-face support. The team meets with individuals, typically in their homes (or wherever suits them best), to understand their unique needs and guide them through the steps to get the support they’re after.
From initial consultations to addressing specific needs, the Care Finder team offers an array of services:
- Communicating with My Aged Care and arranging assessments.
- Accompanying individuals during assessments.
- Supporting clients to choose the most appropriate aged care providers.
- Assisting with forms and service agreements.
- Regularly checking-in once services commence.
- Addressing other individual concerns like housing or mental health and connecting clients with community resources.
Facing challenges head-on
Despite their unwavering commitment, Liz and her team face some hurdles. The biggest? Many older people either don’t understand or distrust the aged care system. This is the most common challenge they’re currently tackling. But with local, face-to-face support from Care Finder, these barriers are slowly diminishing.
With the combined expertise, compassion, and dedication of Liz and her team, Care Finder Hills Shire and Blacktown stands as a testament to community-driven care. They’re not just making a difference; they’re setting a precedent for how we should support vulnerable older people. They bridge the gap, ensuring that every older Australian has the right support, guidance, and care they deserve.
Open doors to easy access
Aspire4Life is one of four Care Finder organisations supporting older people in Western Sydney.
YourSide, Wesley Mission, HammondCare and Aspire4Life work cohesively to ensure a “no wrong door” policy.
Please reach out to the Care Finder team if you would like further information. They’re here to guide, support, and most importantly, ensure no one is left behind. You can also call for more information on 1300 012 056.
This service has been made possible by funding from Western Sydney Primary Health Network.