- Just like in your own home you can generally come and go from your aged care home as you please
- Social leave is only counted, apart of your 52 day balance, if you stay overnight somewhere - but not in a hospital
- If you are transferred to hospital, you will access unlimited hospital leave and it will not be counted in your social leave
It can also raise questions around what you are and aren't allowed to do in the facility, because while it is your new home, it is also the home of many others.
However, residential aged care facilities will provide as much freedom to you as possible while you live there.
So what are your rights around coming and going from the facility, how do holidays work in aged care, and what if you want to move out of the facility?
Coming and going
You are more than welcome to come and go from your aged care facility as you please. This could be to go out and see friends, go shopping, continue with past hobbies and commitments, or get out into your local community.
Your facility may have specific arrangements in place for leaving and entering the aged care home, so it can be a good idea when talking to the nursing home you're considering to move into, to discuss what their process is.
Usually, facilities will have a sign in and sign out book at the entry point of a facility, which is a health and safety requirement. It is an easy way for a facility to check if a resident has left the facility or not.
Additionally, most facilities have a key code access system, which you would receive the code for. Otherwise, the front desk of a facility may have a receptionist that can let you in and out.
There are some circumstances where you may not be able to leave aged care facilities unless you organise it prior to leaving for the day.
If you have dementia, a cognitive issue or are in danger when unsupervised, you may not be allowed out of your aged care facility without prior planning or someone going with you.
This is to keep you safe and well in case you get lost, don't know how to get home or get yourself into a dangerous situation. Unless you are being checked out by a family member, people with dementia or cognitive issues generally do not have the ability to come and go from the aged care home.
There may be reasons why some other residents don't have the freedom to leave the aged care home when they want. For instance, if you have a severe illness or mobility issue that could make it dangerous for you to leave the aged care facility unattended, then it is likely you won't be able to leave without family or friends supervision.
Most facilities will have planned group outings where you will be taken out on the nursing home bus for example to go to the shops, see a movies or visit a museum.
Due to COVID-19, there have been new regulations for aged care facilities that do not allow movement within their facilities or out into the community to limit the chance of exposure to or spreading the virus within a facility.
COVID-19 has caused a lot of aged care facilities to go into lockdown because of ongoing outbreaks. In these cases, providers want to protect their residents from the virus in the home and out in the community - especially if there is a community outbreak and may have put restrictions on visits to or away from the home.
However, aged care residents can be assured that they can still have one essential visitor a day so they still have access to emotional or physical support even during a COVID-19 lockdown.
If you live in an aged care home and want to go on a holiday, you can! Residents in aged care have a certain amount of social leave every year that they can spend away from their facility without the Government subsidy that pays for part of your stay being affected.
A resident is allowed 52 days as social leave, which can be used for holidays, weekend trips, or overnight stays outside of the facility.
Social leave only counts if you stay overnight at a place that isn't your aged care facility.
For instance, if you decided to, you could spend your social leave by going away from the facility every weekend of the year.
If you go over the period of allowed social leave, then the Government will stop paying any subsidies they pay towards your cost of care.
This also means that the facility can start charging you a fee to keep your current spot at the nursing home. This would be on top of any fees or costs you are paying towards the cost of living in an aged care facility.
Your holiday leave will be reset every year on 1 July and this balance will move with you from provider to provider.
If you become sick and have to be transferred to hospital, it will not impact your planned holiday leave.
The Government allows aged care residents to have unlimited hospital leave, so you do not have to worry that a hospital stay will impact on your other leave.
While in hospital, you will have to continue paying any fees or accommodation payments that you agreed to, and the Government will continue to pay any subsidies for your aged care. However, the subsidy from the Government will reduce to 50 percent once you have been in hospital for 29 days or more.
The reduction in the subsidy may impact the means tested care fee that you pay - if you pay one.
You can also be assured that your aged care provider cannot make you pay a fee to "reserve" your place at their facility to cover this reduction in subsidy from the Government.
Emergency leave is also available to residents in the case of a major disaster, and you can leave your facility for an agreed-upon time and location.
For instance, if there is a disaster, like a fire at the facility, bushfire or flood, you can utilise emergency leave to go stay with family for a while until things are safe for you to return home.
Due to COVID-19, the Government has added epidemics and pandemics to reasons that residents can use emergency leave for.
Some families are choosing to move their older loved one out of aged care for a period of time while there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the facility.
You won't lose your room while staying with family in an emergency leave situation, however, you do need to continue paying any agreed-upon fees and costs. Your provider cannot ask you to pay any additional fees to keep your spot in the aged care facility.
There is also pre-entry leave, which is available to someone who is about to enter residential aged care or who is about to move to a different nursing home,
You get up to 7 days of pre-entry leave, which can help a new resident prepare for the transition into their new home or allow for a resident moving out of the facility to organise a place in the new nursing home they are moving to. However, you can only use pre-entry leave if the room is already available for the older person to move into.
Aged care facilities can only charge a basic daily fee to the new resident and will not receive the subsidy from the Government while they are on pre-entry leave.
Lastly, there is also transition care leave which is available for people who are living in aged care and receiving transition care, but only applies if it follows a hospital stay.
You are still required to pay any costs and fees you agreed to with your facility, but it will impact what you pay for transition care.
Moving out of aged care
If you decide that the aged care home where you live no longer fits your needs or just doesn't feel like home, you can decide to move out and leave whenever you feel like it - including moving back home and putting in place appropriate home care services, moving in with family, or transferring to a different aged care home.
You will need to provide at least 7 days written notice before transferring to a new facility, however, if you have only just moved into your current facility and want to move somewhere else, you can move out straight away as long as it is within 14 days of you moving in.
It can be a good idea to provide your current care plan to your new facility so they can get an idea of what care and help you require.
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