Change is in the air

On 27 February, things will change for people who have Home Care Packages.  From this day, your Home Care Package is portable.

What does that mean? It means that as a consumer, you have more choice in who provides your care with your Home Care Package. You will be able to move your Home Care Package to the provider of your choice.

Many people are happy with the services and support they receive in their package with their current provider, however, some people might want to make a change.

The aged care system in Australia has been changing and this is definitely a change which puts the power of choice squarely in the hands of the consumer.

What are some things to think about if you are considering a change?

First, talk to your current provider if you have concerns or if you want to change something in your package. Providers are happy to speak with you about what will make the biggest difference for you in staying at home. They also want to know if they can do better.

Secondly, if you are still considering a change, do some research and see which providers might be a good fit for you. Most providers have websites you can use to see what they offer, but you may want to ring them directly and ask specifically about the types of support and services they offer.  Speaking to them directly and asking good questions is a good way of finding out if you want to work with them. What questions might you ask? It’s good to know:

  • What is your administration fee in a Home Care Package?
  • What is included in the administration fee?
  • How will you work with me in deciding what services/support would make the biggest difference?
  • Do you have an ‘exit fee’ (this is a fee that organisations may charge if you decide to leave their service)?  How much is the exit fee?

These are just some questions you may want to ask. People who are living with dementia or have other needs may want to ask questions more specific to their situation.

If you have questions about how to make a change or want to add questions to ask providers, do let us know so that we can post those and share the information.


How old are you?

Years ago, when I was studying Gerontology, I had a professor who taught a class called “Ageing and the Law”. I can’t remember his name, but I remember a number of things he said as he was older himself and he dropped tiny pearls of wisdom (or truth bombs- depending on your perspective) at virtually every lecture.

Once he said, “Every person has a chronological age and the age that they would say they were if they didn’t look in the mirror. Often, you will find that these two ages are different. If you don’t believe me, go ask some people and see what they say”. At the time I was working in three separate subsidised housing complexes and had access to about 900 older people. I decided to test my professor’s theory and ask some of the residents the question. It. Was. Amazing.

To one very conservative older lady, I asked “How old would you say you were if you didn’t look in the mirror?” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and smiled like I hadn’t seen before and chuckled. She said “I’d say I was 22. The boys would come home on leave (from the war) and we’d go down to meet them and then we’d go out and dance. We’d just dance and dance and dance. Those were the best times.”

To an older man I asked the same question. His face changed and brightened as he told me that when he closed his eyes he felt 19- when he was just starting out in the world and it was open to all possibilities.

I asked the question any number of times and it was always the same, the age that people feel is quite often not their chronological age. This isn’t to discount people’s life experiences that make up who they are, rather, that what is on the outside is not the whole truth of a person. Maybe you’ve had the experience of truly seeing someone for who they are and not for their physical limitations or ‘old’ appearance. If you work in aged care, this may be one of the things you find most valuable in your work.

As aged care reform marches on and we talk about ‘care’, levels of support, assessment and registered providers, perhaps it’s time to think about older people as…people. People who feel largely the same as they did at a particular point in time before they had limitations-before they required support. Perhaps it’s also a time to recognise that older people have rich life experience and are a growing part of the social capital we have available.

As providers of aged care, how can we tap into the knowledge and experience of older people to help us in supporting them as they age? It’s worth having the conversation and really listening to what is important and ideas about how it can happen.

If we are lucky, we will grow old, and will be able to offer to those who would listen, the enthusiasm of the age we feel, combined with the experience of the years we have lived.

Go on. Close your eyes. How old would you be if you hadn’t looked in the mirror this morning?

New Year- New Season

Happy New Year!  I love the beginning of a new year- a whole new year of days to make a difference, learn and grow.  Here at Planning for the Next Season, we’re celebrating New Year by launching our Facilitators Guide.  Both the Facilitators Guide and the Participants Workbook are available individually or together as a pack.

Why did we write a Facilitator’s Guide?  We wrote the guide so that Planning for the Next Season workshops could be facilitated by all different kinds of people- not just Planning for the Next Season Advisors (although they’re tops!).

If you want to know more about Planning for the Next Season and how you can get your hands on the Facilitators Guide and Participants Workbook, drop me a line at

Whether you are thinking about starting the conversation with people close to you, or you are a provider who wants to run a workshop for people you support, we’re happy to work with you to work out the best option.

Watch this space in 2017 for more exciting news about what we are up to at Planning for the Next Season.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2017.



New at Planning for the Next Season

Planning for the Next Season is pleased to announce that we are working in partnership with CommunityWest to deliver the very best in early planning materials, consultancy and workshop experience! CommunityWest reimagines community services so that people who are frail or who have an ongoing disability can live independently for as long as possible. They do this by providing consulting, learning and audit services to community sector organisations. The values of CommunityWest and Planning for the Next Season are aligned and we are happy to be working together in the early planning and intervention space.

The Planning For the Next Season facilitator guides are shortly hot off the press and, as always, the Planning for the Next Season workbooks are available anytime.

Many options for Plannnig for the Next Season are available to providers and consumer services alike. For example, we are offering a Planning for the Next Season providers package which will give you the facilitator’s guide, twenty workbooks and two hours of consultancy time. That package will give providers everything they need in order to run Planning for the Next Season workshops on their own.

Other packages are available including consultancy only or workshop materials only. Head over to the CommunityWest website here to learn more.

Looking forward to learning together and supporting people to forge their own path they age well at home.



Coming soon……!




At Planning for the Next Season we are always working to bring you new ideas, tools and thinking. Soon, we’ll have a brand new resource available- the Planning for the Next Season facilitator’s guide! How soon? The guide is just about ready to go to print.

With the facilitator’s guide and participant workbooks, this means that organisations and groups, both formal and informal, will be able to run Planning for the Next Season workshops anywhere in the world!


Are we excited?  You’d better believe it. 

For more information before the launch, just send us an email.  We’d love to catch up.


Is this the best we can do?

This morning, an article from ABC came across my Facebook feed. The title was, “David Goodall, 102yo scientist, told to leave Edith Cowan University post”. Having a strong interest in active, positive ageing,this piqued my interest.

Goodall, with 70 years of experience under his belt, commutes 90 minutes each way to his office on the ECU campus. In order to do this, he takes two buses and a train at least four days a week. The article states that he has been told to pack up his office, with the university declaring him unfit to be there. According to the Dean of the School of Sciences, Andrew Woodward, this decision was taken after some student and staff concerns about Dr Goodall’s safety and well being. You can read the full article here.

I don’t know Dr Goodall, his daughter Karen Goodall-Smith, or Andrew Woodward. I don’t know the detail of the concerns expressed by staff or some students, but surely there was a better outcome than offering Dr Goodall a computer and printer to use at home and banishing him from his office, valued role and social connection. Dr Goodall says that his social connection comes from being at the school. At 102 years of age, I imagine most, if not all of his contemporaries would no longer be living. His daughter was consulted by the school earlier this year and she said that this course of action was the worst thing that could possibly be done and she thought her father may not survive it. She is right, of course, in that social isolation is an enormous issue for older people and causes significant mental and physical health issues.

I’m concerned about two aspects of this situation primarily. First, who was consulted in this process and were any other alternatives considered? Secondly, given the comments on Facebook regarding the article, I wonder where we are headed now and in the future around recognising the value, wisdom, self authority and reciprocity of older citizens.

The article doesn’t mention the process by which the university came to its decision. It says that the daughter was consulted. Was Dr Goodall consulted? Were his colleagues consulted? How about the older colleagues? If Dr Goodall’s wellbeing was an issue, what other alternatives were explored? Was it possible that Dr Goodall be a mentor? Could he have had set office hours where his expertise was available to students not only of ecology (his field), but others who might be interested in the wisdom, insight and story of this man? Offering Dr Goodall another contract of honorary professor, sending him home with a computer, printer and transport will not contribute to his sense of wellbeing. A wellness approach involves recognising a person’s strengths and enhances their independence. Dr Goodall’s commute was contributing to his independence, his office to his valued role and his workplace to his social connection. The chosen solution takes these things away in the best interest of the school and Dr Goodall’s ‘wellbeing’.

The comments regarding the article generally fell into three camps:

Asking Dr Goodall to leave was not a good thing
Older people should consider themselves lucky to have had such a good innings and go quietly into the sunset and;
There are a lot of older people out of work who would love to be able to do so, but face age discrimination
The comments further cemented my belief that we continue to live in a society where older people may be recognised for their contribution, but once they reach their ‘use by’ date, have nothing to offer. Reciprocity of older adults is not recognised. This makes me uneasy as our world becomes more complex and we could use the benefit of an intergenerational approach. We should harness the knowledge, wisdom and social capital of older people which is available. I suspect that once a CEO, CIO, Nurse, GP or University Professor retire, they still retain skills and thinking that got them there. I do appreciate that organisations who support older adults would be happy to support Dr Goodall, but by suggesting that’s the best thing for him we take away his authority to decide that for himself.

Working together in thinking and planning for the future, recognising strengths is central to the framework of Planning for the Next Season ( Coproduction of solutions between older employees and employers would yield great benefit as well (

I hope that ECU considers alternatives for Dr Goodall which are truly in his best interest and I hope that the positive ageing movement which is gathering steam reaches an apex by which we can recognise the authority, contribution and reciprocity of older adults. Otherwise, all of us who are lucky enough to have lived many years will continue to be considered a burden rather than an asset.



Reading much of the content for the sector online and on social media recently, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the future of ageing and aged care is bleak. There is no doubt that the sector is having challenges- particularly around administrative costs, different funding models, consumer driven approaches and legislative directives.

Aside from that, we know:

People who are ageing have more chronic health issues than younger people
The number of informal carers has begun and will continue to decline
The incidence of dementia is higher in older adults
There is a shrinking tax base
We are at risk of viewing everyone over the age of 65 with a use by date which has come and gone or of putting all people over the age of 65 into a homogenous group of expensive, passive service users. It’s the ‘ageing tsunami’ come to life.

Whilst the reality of caring for the most vulnerable in the community is a very real issue, time needs to be spent in thinking about the strengths of older people and what they bring to the conversation about their future- how they live and how they wish to be supported.

The Aged Care Roadmap says that there is a reluctance by older people to discuss and plan for their future aged care and that it is important to change societal attitudes, culture and behaviour about aged care so that older people will engage in the discussion earlier.

This is not an easy task, but necessary for empowerment of consumers. Some may believe this is a Pollyanna perspective. I prefer to think of it as Possibilitarian and there are others who have a similar view.

The possibilities

It is possible to engage with older people to ask what they really want as they age. It is possible to view people who are ageing as the largest pool of collective community knowledge and social capital that we’ve had in history. Before we start talking about ‘care’, can we talk about community, and the type of interventions which might benefit prior to any ‘care’? I would suggest a conversation about specific interventions including:

Social participation
Preparing for the next season of life (not ‘retirement’, rather a transition out of full time work and into other valued roles).
Promotion of health and mobility
Appropriate housing
Access to information
People want to live life the way they always have in an environment of their choosing. That means living, making choices, deciding for themselves, as they have done throughout their lives.

Where to start?

In order to empower consumers to prepare for the future, the opportunity is to listen today. Listen to the positive ageing movement which is beginning to gain pace. Listen to consumer groups outside of the aged care system in what they want and hope for as they age. Consider community interventions which rely on the social capital of communities for governance and development. Look for and encourage innovation- not just by organisations but by consumers themselves. Look into coproduction and facilitated peer discussions for future service direction. This is the time to start to shape the future together.

Reaching out to consumers and creating connections is the start of a beautiful relationship.