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Your rights in aged care

Aged care is a difficult and complicated area to navigate when looking into or entering the industry as either a consumer or a family member helping a relative find services.

Last updated: February 28th 2022
When starting any aged care service, you will be given documents about your rights while receiving care from your new provider. [Source: Shutterstock]

When starting any aged care service, you will be given documents about your rights while receiving care from your new provider. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • Aged care providers are obligated to make sure your human rights are being upheld
  • There are a number of legislative acts in place that protect your rights in aged care
  • If your provider isn’t upholding your rights, there are a number of avenues you can take to fix the problem

There are so many procedures and systems in place, it can be hard to know what your rights are when receiving care or as a family member.

To give consumers a better understanding about what they are entitled to and what their rights are in aged care, the Government has introduced a number of new systems.

These charters were put in place to ensure consumers retain their identity, culture and diversity while receiving aged care services and to make sure they are continuously treated with respect and as valued people.

Best practice

When starting any aged care services, you will be given documents about your rights while receiving care and services from providers.

Those documents will outline your rights and responsibilities, as well as those of the provider, that need to be upheld while receiving the service.

The document will be signed by the provider and they will ensure you, or your authorised caregiver, has the opportunity to sign a copy.

Providers will take the time to sit down with you, and your family and explain the charter rights so you have a full understanding of what your rights are.

It’s a good idea to provide copies of your rights to family, friends, or anyone helping with your care, so they are aware of what you are entitled to. Additionally, your provider will keep a record of your document, signed or not signed.

Charter of Aged Care Rights

The Australian Government created the Charter of Aged Care Rights that outlines your right to access quality care while receiving residential care, home care or other aged care services.

This updated Charter was introduced in July 2019, providing a more blanket rights system to consumers.

They include your right to:

  1. Safe and high quality care and services
  2. Be treated with dignity and respect
  3. Have you identity, culture and diversity valued and supported
  4. Live without abuse and neglect
  5. Be informed about my care and services in a way you understand
  6. Access all information about you, including information about your rights, care and services
  7. Have control over and make choices about your care, and personal and social life, including where choices involve personal risk
  8. Have control over, and make decisions about, the personal aspects of your daily life, financial affairs and possessions
  9. Your independence
  10. Be listened to and understood
  11. Have a person of your choice, including an aged care advocate, support you or speak on your behalf
  12. Complain free from reprisal, and to have your complaints dealt with fairly and promptly
  13. Personal privacy and to have your personal information protected
  14. Exercise your rights without it adversely affecting the way you are treated

Your new provider will explain these rights to you and explain how they intend to support your rights.

These rights will also be included in your Residents Agreement, if you are entering a nursing home, or in your Home Care Agreement, if you are receiving home or community care services.

Your provider will sign the Charter and give you the opportunity to sign the Charter as well, but you are not required to sign it. Even if you choose not to, you can still receive the care and services you have agreed upon.

The Charter of Aged Care Rights replaced the previous Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities for residential care and home care.

Aged Care Quality Standards

The Aged Care Quality Standards are eight standards that define what the Government considers to be good quality care in aged care.

All aged care services are held to these standards and if they don’t meet them, will receive penalties from the Government, like sanctions.

These eight Standards cover:

  • Standard 1 – Consumer dignity and choice
  • Standard 2 – Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers
  • Standard 3 – Personal care and clinical care
  • Standard 4 – Services and supports for daily living
  • Standard 5 – Organisation’s service environment
  • Standard 6 – Feedback and complaints
  • Standard 7 – Human resources
  • Standard 8 – Organisational governance

Your provider needs to prove to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission that they are meeting each of these standards, therefore, providing quality care to their consumers. To learn more about the eight Standards, read our article explaining the Aged Care Quality Standards here.

Laws that protect you

There are legislative acts in place that protect older people in the community and when receiving aged care services.

The Aged Care Act is in place to ensure the Government funds and monitors the aged care sector appropriately, as well as provide direction to providers about the care and safety they need to provide to older people.

Aged care providers have to meet the requirements set out in the Aged Care Act to be able to provide Government-subsidised aged care to older Australians.

It means that providers have to provide quality care to their consumers and uphold the rights of those receiving care or in their care.

The Age Discrimination Act provides protection to all people against discrimination based on their age.

This Act ensures your human rights are upheld when receiving any care or service, like aged care.

You can be assured that the Age Discrimination Act can protect you from any discrimination you face in your life including while receiving aged care services, or from being treated unfairly.

I think my rights are not being met?

If you are ever concerned about the care you receive or feel that your human rights are not being met by the aged care provider, it is important to first talk to the provider about your concerns.

This may solve the problem you are having, but if it doesn’t, and you want expert advice on what to do next, you can contact an advocate to help you with talking to your provider.

Otherwise, the next step if nothing is resolved is to take your complaint to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission who may contact your provider to investigate and try to come to a solution.

For more information on making a complaint, read our article on ‘What to do if I have a complaint about my care‘.

Future changes

Following the release of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report, the Government has committed to a ‘five year, five pillar’ plan, which includes substantial reform to the aged care sector.

While the Government is still finalising the plans they have for aged care, it is expected that stronger safeguards will be in place to protect aged care consumers as well as a bigger focus on encouraging choice and control over the services you receive.

Currently on the cards for change is a new values-based Aged Care Act in 2023 and a new independent regulatory authority to be established in 2024 to monitor quality care and older people’s rights in aged care.

What changes to aged care would you like to see that could improve the rights of people accessing aged care? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

How do sanctions work?

What do I do if I have a complaint about my care?

The role of advocacy in aged care

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