COOLIBAH CARE: Helping maintain your independence

Home & Community Care manager Bian Durston, case managers Claire Van Breda and Crystal Jackson and Respite & Admissions coordinator Gloria Laing (3rd from left).
Home & Community Care manager Bian Durston, case managers Claire Van Breda and Crystal Jackson and Respite & Admissions coordinator Gloria Laing (3rd from left).

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Navigating the complex maze of aged care services can be a daunting prospect.

Mandurah-based Coolibah Care works with seniors and their families to define exactly what their needs are, offering a flexible range of home, respite and residential care packages to help people continue to live fulfilling lives in the community they love.

Home and Community Care Manager Bian Durston said home care packages were designed to help seniors remain safe and comfortable in their own homes longer while maintaining their independence.

"This might include traditional personal care, gardening, cleaning, helping a client Skype a relative overseas to prevent social isolation, taking them to the shops, having a coffee with them, massaging their hands or painting their nails," she said.

"Anything that enhances their lives or helps them to have a better day - we want to help them make every day the best possible day it can be."

Seniors select a carer they feel comfortable with and, where possible, Coolibah Care is committed to providing the same carer to enable a solid relationship to be built, based on trust and respect.

Coolibah Care works with the individual to tailor a flexible suite of services that help them achieve what they want to achieve, with clients only paying for what they need.

"For example, if a client is going to stay with their daughter for a while, we can temporarily reduce that number of hours," Bian said.

Home care may be subsidised by the Commonwealth Government, depending on eligibility, but Bian nevertheless encouraged those still waiting for their Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessment to be finalised to contact Coolibah Care to learn about private packages available in the interim.

Understanding that carers and families sometimes need a break, Coolibah Care also offers day, cottage and residential respite services.

"Day respite may be scheduled on a regular basis if their regular carer at home needs a day per week to get other things done," Bian said.

"Cottage respite is for clients who might normally live at home but the person who looks after them is on holidays, needs to attend an appointment or have surgery, or even perhaps has a bout of gastro and is not able to care for them.

"In this instance we can provide a cottage stay for a few days.

"Residential respite is also available for those who may live at home but their level of care is higher."

Bian said respite care could also be an ideal stepping stone for people who wanted to "test the water" with residential care, helping smooth the transition.

"We support people from needing a little bit of help around the home or social support right through to when they need to live with us permanently," she said.

Respite and Admissions Co-ordinator Gloria Laing said some people had pre-conceived ideas about aged care that left them unsettled about having a loved one enter respite care, but families were frequently pleasantly surprised at how Coolibah Care's team had made the process so easy and comfortable.

"For a husband and wife who've been married for 61 years, you can imagine how stressful it is handing your spouse over to strangers. But we make an appointment to show them around our beautiful facilities, answer their questions and we make everyone feel comfortable," she said.

Respite also meant the world for family members, Gloria said, because it might be the first time in a long time they have had a full night's sleep, adding that when they returned to pick up a loved one after their break they often "look and feel like a million dollars" compared with before.

Understanding an individual's unique circumstances and involving them in the plan for their own care was a priority, Gloria said.

"If you don't know their story you don't know them, so we find common ground to talk about and help them feel at ease," she said.

"These people have been farmers, professional athletes, artists, they have lived through and served in wars - sometimes they feel lost but we involve them in the decision process, and treat them just like we would treat our own mum or dad.

"And if you were talk to their family members (about their respite care), they would say they love it."

The aged care journey can be lengthy and complicated, but Coolibah Care is committed to helping you every step of the way.

It welcomes enquiries from those who would like an obligation-free, in-home consultation to discuss care packages for themselves or a family member who will require assistance now or in the future.