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When home becomes more prison than castle


When home becomes more prison than castle

The refuge or fortress that is home can quickly become a burden and maybe even a prison in later life, writes PETER PORCELLINI. Enjoyable and manageable household activities can remove enjoyment from life when age or a decline in health takes hold.

The common reluctance to move from home causes the undoing of many lives. Procrastination or denial of the need to move often means that the decision and many related decisions end up being made in a rush at a time of relative chaos.

As a result, the risk of poor or unsatisfactory decision making is high. The opportunity to make those decisions in an environment of relative calm and order with limited risk has been lost.

Worse still, if the person has lost decision making capacity then the decisions will be made by someone else. The opportunity for self-determination and control will have been lost.

When the need for a move is on the horizon, it’s wise to do things such as explore available living options and get financial and legal advice.

Planning ahead makes it easier to act when the time comes. As John F Kennedy said, “the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

Many have an understandably strong wish to age in their own home for as long as is possible with care and assistance provided. For a number of reasons during most of the last decade, Retirement Village Operators and Manufactured Home Park Operators have had to grapple with how to satisfy this long-held wish.

Increasingly village and park operators are offering structured opportunities to live in a manageable independent living unit in a safe and supportive communal environment with a choice of care and assistance services.

The method of delivery of the services varies. Some of the more common methods include:

  • The operator simply facilitating the attendance of service providers arranged personally by a resident.
  • The operator partnering with service providers to offer village-specific services or packages.
  • A method often referred to as a private aged care in which the operator directly provides a full suite of services.

Regardless of delivery method, the services are usually either self-funded or funded with the assistance of a Commonwealth Government Home Care Package. If the need to move from home is recognised and accepted early enough, then these scaled-down living arrangements with services might be a viable alternative.

And if they are, then many argue that the continued level of independence and self-determination that comes with those arrangements might even help delay the time when the ability to live independently is lost and residential aged care becomes a necessity. Act early and get advice to understand the legal and financial implications of new living options as part of any planning.

 Peter Porcellini is a special counsel with CRH Law. Visit

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