THOUSANDS of seniors in need of home care will soon be given greater control over their health and wellbeing.

From July 1, recipients can choose their own packages under a new government program called Consumer Directed Care.

After recognising the demand for a better standard of care services, Jon Kontopos founded Home Caring, an organisation that caters for people suffering dementia.
“We can go all the way up to extremely high care for dementia patients at their home and that’s a benefit because people don’t want to have to move into a nursing home,” he said.

The revised scheme is designed to help older people remain in their community for longer and choose the type of care and services they receive and by whom.
“The whole point is giving people the option to live at home for longer,” Mr Kontopos said.

“We try and encourage independence because people can go down quickly if you do everything for them and it’s not really active living.”
Senior manager of Home Caring, Christine Cherry, said that dementia was a complex disease and that every client had different needs.

“We can’t give you medical advice, but we’re there to help in every other way,” she said.

Diagnosis:
On average, symptoms of dementia are noticed by families three years before a firm diagnosis is made, according to Alzheimer’s Australia. A caregiver can’t diagnose the disease. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have dementia, see your GP or a geriatrician.

Care plan:
Because dementia varies in degree from person to person, a tailored care plan should be put in place. Your carer will begin by visiting for a client assessment. Discuss your concerns and ask any questions you may have during this time. Ensure that the care plan is reviewed every six months.

Where to get help:
Carers are advised to take regular breaks and look after their own health. Respite services are available — visit myagedcare.gov.au for more details. You can also join a carer association for support.