The Aged Care Royal Commission took the opportunity in August to explore alternative accommodation options, which includes Supported Residential Services (SRS), for older Australians.
SRS is an accommodation and support option for people of all ages groups, including those who are older or living with disability, who may need more help with everyday activities like showering or managing medications but are still wanting independence.
Effective Care, a SRS provider in Victoria, provides homely facilities that caters for older Victorians and people with disability as an alternative to larger aged care facilities.
Dr Devi Ranasinghe, Director of Effective Care, says that independence for older Australians is essential and that living in a SRS is one way for it to be maintained.
“In most cases, older Australians would want to live independently at home, however due to health or other reasons, cannot.
“Without argument, most older Australian’s want to maintain their independence and in the SRS setting this can be maintained by promoting confidence, and by the right to choose how their care is delivered,” Dr Ranasinghe explains.
One of the benefits of SRS, according to Dr Ranasinghe, is that it is an option for older people who need additional support, but who are not ready to move into a more traditional residential aged care facility.
When moving into a Government funded aged care facility, you need to get an aged care assessment, and they require the payment of a bond to secure your place there.
Dr Ranasinghe says that because SRS does not require a bond, it can make it a more flexible option for older Australians.
“There are no financial barriers attached to their care and accommodation (bond). Therefore, it is in the best interest of the SRS to ensure that [the client’s needs and] wishes are met.
“Options are important for older people as it means that they can get the support that they need while also having their wishes respected," says Dr Ranasinghe.
Because SRSs do not receive funding from the State or Federal Government prospective residents, don't need to have an aged care assessment to determine if they're eligible. However, Home Care Package funding can be used towards the care component. This means Home Care providers are still able to manage clients while they are benefiting from the care as well as daily social interactions of an SRS.
Another appeal is that most SRS facilities are smaller in size, and they offer the opportunity to make new friends, say residents.
Colleen, who is 98 years old, has spent three years living in a SRS and says it’s “wonderful” living there and that she is “very happy”.
“I’m not alone, I have company and get looked after, I’m not nervous about being on my own [because there is] 24-hour care.”
After six months in a SRS, eight five year old Lesley agrees with Colleen, saying that living in an SRS is “lovely” as she gets her own room.
“[Living in a SRS has] helped as I was unwell and I’m [now] well looked after. I’ve met some lovely new friends and [the] staff are very caring,” she adds.
“I’ve never been anywhere else, and I love it at Iris Grange," says 88 year old Shirley.
"I’m well looked after [and there are] freshly cooked meals. I’m not on my own [so] my family don’t have to worry about me.”
Dr Ranasinghe says that the smaller size of the facility gives residents a homely feeling.
Addressing some of the common misconceptions about SRS that they only accommodate those with a mental health condition or that staff are untrained, Dr Ranasinghe says that SRS is for anyone who needs care and staff are well trained and qualified in what they do.
“The care component is generally the same... So it is a good option for those who require care without the stigma of entering residential aged care,” says Dr Ranasinghe.