Finding Clarity in the Aged Care System

Navigating the transition to aged care can be a stressful and  confusing process.

Working with a financial planner who specialises in aged care can provide much-needed clarity in a complex system.

Kerry Darton, founder and CEO of Clarity Financial Advice,  is a financial adviser who started looking into the aged care system after seeing the difficulties her father faced when moving her grandparents into aged care.

‘My father, a very intelligent man, was complaining about the system’, she recalls.

‘I thought ‘’it can’t be that hard – but it is!’”

As well as becoming accredited as an aged care professional, Kerry undertook training to become a financial planner specialising in aged care. She worked in an aged care facility to get an understanding of the process families face when placing a loved one into aged care.

Armed with this significant knowledge and experience, Kerry founded Clarity Financial Services to help people understand their options during a stressful time.

‘The more I found out about the way the different decisions impacted the financial implications and realised that I could help people understand how to navigate the system, the more I wanted to specialise in this area,’ says Kerry.

‘People having to transition their parents or partners into a more assisted level of living are stressed, confused and often feel a level of guilt.’

‘I get a huge amount of satisfaction from putting the impacts in simple terms and explaining the different decisions that need to be made.’

‘The best intentions can have unintended consequences’ warns Kerry.

‘I help people save money and reduce stress by explaining the implications of their decisions.’

Older Couple Piggy Bank

What can people expect when they engage a financial planner specialising in aged care?

‘Our clients’ main concern is how to fund the cost of accommodation and whether they will need to sell their family home to enable this.’

‘I always stress the need to get advice before proceeding with a sale.’

Kerry continues, ‘after an initial assessment of a client’s situation, we will model the available options and document this in a Statement of Advice.

Their aim?

‘To minimise fees, maximise government support, preserve Estate intentions and help enduring Powers of Attorney make informed decisions. When someone needs to transition to care we look at three to five funding options and five-year cashflow requirements. ‘

It’s important to understand, says Kerry, that ‘aged care encompasses accessing care in the home, granny flat arrangements, retirement villages and residential aged care.’

As part of Clarity’s service, the company will assess the various options available to a client to fund care, potential future costs –  and the cashflow required to ensure that care is affordable long term.

‘This also involves looking at the implications of retaining the family home,’ Kerry adds.

When it comes to choosing an aged care facility, Kerry is adamant that the decision is personal, and that she remains ‘an impartial third person’.

What advice would you give when it comes to choosing a facility?

‘Visit the facility, see how you feel when you are there.

‘Are the curtains open, letting in the sun? What does the food look like? Do the staff smile back when you smile at them?’

Kerry also recommends asking about the available activities, and whether there are gardens or areas besides residents’ rooms where family and friends can enjoy a visit.

‘When doing a tour of a facility, a clinical team member should be available to talk about the care available and the care needs of the individual.’

She urges people to consider proximity to friends and family when making a decision.

‘I have had clients who have chosen a facility that is close by over a newer facility 45 minutes away, as it meant an extra hour and a half that they could spend with their loved one.’

Kerry also says that doing online research about the facilities available and what they offer is a good jumping-off point.

Her firm can provide advice about how to fund costs and simplify finances.

Good Financial Decisions

Kerry stresses the need to make sound financial decisions at all stages of life to make the later years easier.

‘Spend less than you earn, she advises, ‘and invest in what interests you. Pay for quality advice and always understand the implications of your decisions.’

Her advice for those in the later years of retirement?

‘Don’t sell the family home until you fully understand the financial implications on your (aged care) fees.’

Kerry hopes that, with a new government at the helm, ‘we see value placed on the importance of the aged care workforce, and an increase in the quality of residential aged care.’

‘I understand why people want to stay in their homes – but the problem of increasing isolation as mobility and health declines means that this is not always a safe solution.’

She also hopes the new government will ‘focus on increased quality of life within aged care and not just additional administrative overlays that don’t provide direct benefit to residents.’

For more information on the services Kerry and her team provide, contact Clarity Financial Advice:

Phone: 0430 019 136

Email: kerry@clarifyfinancialadvice.com.au

www.clarityfinancialadvice.com.au

Clarity Financial Advice are also members of the SALT directory – a group of businesses who specialise in the transition of older Australians to aged care living.

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