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The role of advocacy in aged care

Most of the time aged care services work well and the people who use them are happy with the service they receive. However, sometimes there is a problem, and you may need help to speak up and have the problem resolved.

Key points:

  • Advocacy services can assist with complaints or difficult situations with providers

  • All consumers are protected by the Charter of Aged Care Rights

  • There are free advocacy services available through the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN)

Older man looking out the window
It is important to address your concerns and not leaving them escalate (Source: Shutterstock)

Raising a complaint to your provider can sometimes be scary or you may find that your provider isn't listening, engaging an advocacy service can really assist in making the process easier and making sure your voice is being heard.

Supporting the rights of older people

Many people feel uncomfortable raising a complaint or concern, but it is important to have your concerns addressed as soon as you can and not leave it to escalate.

This can be particularly difficult if your complaint is about care or services that you are dependent upon for meeting your most basic needs. 

Nevertheless, we live in a society where each and every one of us, regardless of our age, has rights as citizens and individuals.

Your rights in aged care

The Charter of Aged Care Rights came into effect in July 2019, replacing the former Charter of Care Recipients' Rights and Responsibilities.

This new Charter aims to cover all consumers of aged care services, making sure older Australians receive quality care and services from their providers.

The Charter of Aged Care Rights consists of 14 rights:

  1. Access to safe and high quality care and services

  2. To be treated with dignity and respect

  3. Have my identity, culture and diversity valued and supported

  4. Live without abuse and neglect

  5. Be informed about my care and services in a way I understand

  6. Able to access all information about myself, including information about my rights, care, and services

  7. Have control over and make choices about my care, and personal and social life, including where the choices involve personal risk

  8. Have control over, and make decisions about, the personal aspects of my daily life, financial affairs, and possessions

  9. My independence

  10. Be listened to and understood

  11. Have a person of my choice, including an aged care advocate, support me or speak on my behalf

  12. Complain free from reprisal and to have my complaints dealt with fairly and promptly 

  13. Personal privacy and to have my personal information protected

  14. Exercise my rights without it adversely affecting the way I am treated

Your aged care provider must provide you with a copy of the Charter of Aged Care Rights upon entry to a facility, which you sign if you want to, but it not mandatory.

You can also request a copy of the Charter of Aged Care Rights at any time during your stay.

​Help and support

If you feel unsure or unable to address your concerns yourself with the service provider, you can ask an advocacy service to help you.

An advocate can give information, advice, and support you to express your concerns or even speak on your behalf. They will aim to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

An advocate can help you:

  • Understand your rights and responsibilities 

  • Listen to your concerns 

  • Discuss your options for addressing a concern 

  • Raise a concern with the service provider or speak on your behalf

  • Mediate a resolution with your provider

Advice is generally provided on consumer rights, human rights, financial exploitation, substitute decision-making, and elder abuse.

How to find help

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) provide free and independent advocacy services in every State and Territory, including free telephone advice, community education, and other assistance for older persons throughout Australia.  

All advocacy services ensure the needs of people from culturally diverse backgrounds are met through culturally appropriate services and can organise interpreters where necessary. 

If you receive Government funded home care or aged care services, you can access independent and free advocacy services through the National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP), which is run by OPAN.

Contact the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600, or search for an aged care advocate or advocacy service near you on the AgedCareGuide.com.au.

How has an advocacy service assisted you? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

What about complaints?
What is My Aged Care?
Accreditation

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