Accessing aged care can be confusing and daunting for any older person – but especially for older people who struggle with English. The Australian Government’s Aged Care Navigators project provides free, confidential help to understand and access services through My Aged Care, the government’s hub for aged care information and access.
For the past year, one Aged Care Navigators project has working with Enliven, the Southern Migrant Refugee Centre and the City of Greater Dandenong to support people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups in Dandenong. Our work with Samoan seniors in Springvale has highlighted some of the barriers that can stop CALD older people from accessing the aged care services they’re entitled to.
Navigating the registration maze
In August 2019, we met with a Samoan Seniors group to explain the benefits of registering with My Aged Care. The group had limited English, little understanding of the registration process and no access to computers, so we knew they would need assistance to register.
Next, the group visited the Aged Care Navigator office in Springvale where we attempted to register nine people via telephone. However, with only one Samoan interpreter to support all the applicants, this was a long and difficult process. Only five people were registered over the phone. We also attempted to register a sixth woman online.
Unfortunately, most of those who registered didn’t hear anything further from My Aged Care, so in December 2019, we met with the group to follow up. When we called My Aged Care, we learned that the process had failed because of incorrect details, changed addresses, or clients not realising they had to answer calls from My Aged Care to complete the process.
In January 2020, Susi joined us as a ‘Champion’ – a volunteer trained to help older people in the Samoan community to register and access a Home Care Package or the Commonwealth Home Support Program. Staff are still meeting with Samoan seniors individually to chase up registrations – a long process requiring lots of patience.
In a surprising discovery, one Samoan man found that he had been registered during a hospital visit in 2018. Unbeknown to him, he’d been assessed as eligible for a Home Care Package that was now due to start. We’re assisting him to choose a service provider, with help from the Southern Migrant Refugee Centre in Dandenong.
The Aged Care Navigators project is continuing until June 2021, so we’ll continue to meet with groups and follow up with phone calls until people are confident with the process.
For more information about the project and where to get support, contact COTA Victoria on 1300 13 50 90.