Your Rights As An Aged Care Consumer

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​Did you know if you live in government-funded aged care or receive services that you have a charter of legal rights? Here’s what you need to know.

The Charter of Aged Care Rights was created by the Federal Government and came into force on July 1, 2019. It provides the same rights to all consumers, regardless of the type of government funded aged care and services they receive.

Here, we summarise the charter, as it appears in the booklet, Charter of Aged Care Rights.

THE RIGHT STUFF

People receiving aged care have the same legal rights as all Australians. When you start receiving aged care, you retain the same rights as everyone else in the community. For example, you have rights to privacy, consumer rights and the right to be free from discrimination under relevant laws. The rights described in the Charter add to these.

As an aged-care consumer, your provider is legally required to help you to understand your rights under the Charter. A copy of the Charter must be given to you before or when you start receiving aged care. Your provider is required to sign the Charter and to also give you the option of signing it. This is in addition to your aged-care agreement.

By signing the Charter, you acknowledge you have received it, been assisted to understand it and understand your rights. You don’t have to sign the Charter: you can begin or continue to receive care and services even if you don’t sign it. Your provider is required to give you either an original or a copy of the Charter that has been signed. Both you and your provider should keep a copy. It is a good idea to share this information with your family, friends and others involved in your care.

All providers of Australian Government funded aged care must comply with the Charter. This includes providers of residential care, home care, flexible care and services provided under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program. If you receive services from more than one provider, each must comply with the Charter and respect your rights. Each provider must sign the Charter, help you to understand it and give you the option to sign it.

People from organisations other than your provider may be involved in delivering your aged-care services. Many providers use contractors to deliver services or subcontracted services through other organisations. Everybody involved in the delivery of your care must respect your rights.

YOU SHOULD EXPECT TO FEEL SAFE, ALWAYS

You have a right to live without abuse and neglect. You should feel safe, whether you are receiving residential aged care, services in your own home or other services in the community. If you are made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable, you should tell someone. This could be your aged-care provider, a staff member, a friend, family member, an aged-care advocate or anyone you trust.

You should expect the care and services you get to be safe, and you should feel able to share any concerns with your provider. In relation to the care and services provided, your aged-care provider must take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to all forms of violence, exploitation, discrimination, neglect and abuse.

If you have concerns about the care you or someone else is receiving, it is important that you talk about it. You should talk to your provider first. It’s okay to complain. Just as positive feedback can reinforce things that work well, your complaints help improve care and services. You have the right to raise concerns easily and without fear of how you will be treated.

All aged-care providers must have their own complaints systems and manage complaints fairly. Your complaints should be taken seriously and handled fairly and in a timely way. It is your provider’s responsibility to act promptly on matters related to the quality or safety of your care and services. But if you feel uncomfortable talking to your provider, or would like help understanding your rights, services are available to help you.

You have a right to an aged-care advocate, who can help you explore options and make informed decisions. They can also help you to raise your concerns and work towards resolving them. For more information, call the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600 or visit the Older Persons Advocacy Network website, opan.com.au.

You can contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, which exists to protect and enhance the health, safety, wellbeing and quality of life for aged-care consumers. It can help you to resolve a complaint about a provider. Call the commission on 1800 951 822, email info@agedcarequality.gov.au or visit the website, agedcarequality.gov.au.

YOU HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES, TOO

All people involved in aged care – consumers, their families, carers, visitors and the aged-care workforce – must respect and be considerate of each other. You should be mindful of the effect of your behaviour on others, always keeping their rights in mind.

At times, your rights may compete with the rights of other consumers, family members or staff. When this occurs, the consumer and the service provider need to communicate openly and honestly about these competing rights and work together to come to a solution. Good communication between you, your family, friends, carers and staff can help your provider to give you the care and services that best meet your needs.

As an aged-care consumer, you should give your provider the information they need to properly deliver your care and services. You should understand and comply with the conditions of your care agreement and pay any fees outlined in the agreement. You should respect the rights of aged-care workers to work in a safe environment. Any kind of violence, harassment or abuse towards staff or others is not acceptable.

Your expectations of your provider should be reasonable. You should discuss your needs, goals, preferences and priorities with your provider, and they will work with you on how you can get the care and services you need within the resources available.

Australian Government-funded aged care providers also have other legal responsibilities. These include responsibilities around the fees they charge and that the care and services they deliver meet the Aged Care Quality Standards. The eight Standards are:

Standard One: consumer dignity and choice

Standard Two: ongoing assessment and planning with consumers

Standard Three: personal care and clinical care

Standard Four: services and supports for daily living

Standard Five: organisation’s service environment

Standard Six: feedback and complaints

Standard Seven: human resources

Standard Eight: organisation governance.

For more information on your rights, you can: talk to your aged-care provider; talk to an aged-care advocate on 1800 700 600; visit the Older Persons Advocacy Network website, opan.com.au/charter; visit the Department of Health website, agedcare.health.gov.au; visit the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission website, agedcarequality.gov.au; or visit the My Aged Care website, myagedcare.gov.au.

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