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New Charter of Aged Care Rights

2019-06-14

In 2014, under relevant legislation, [1] the Australian Government introduced the Charters of Aged Care Rights for people receiving aged care services. These Charters are important in promoting the rights of aged care recipients.

There are currently four existing Charters. The existing Charters are based on the setting and type of care being provided; residential, home care and short-term restorative care in residential or home settings. Commonwealth-subsidised aged care providers must comply with all relevant Charters.

The operation of four Charters, and the presence of duplication across them, makes it difficult for consumers, providers, workers and advocates to understand which program is applicable at any given time. There is concern that the current system allows for complexity and inconsistency in regulatory oversight and compliance.

In response to these issues and concerns, the Government has worked with stakeholders to develop a single Charter of Aged Care Rights ( the new Charter ).

 

The new Charter of Aged Care Rights

The new Charter comes into effect on 1 July 2019. Unlike the existing Charters, the single document will apply to all aged care recipients regardless of the setting in which they receive their care. It is designed to be easy to read and therefore, easier to apply and regulate.

The new Charter is directed at consumer-centred care. It sets out what is expected from providers and consumers; protects consumer choice; and acknowledges that identity, culture and diversity are to be valued and supported. [2]

It is the responsibility of providers to ensure that consumers understand the new Charter. Once it takes effect on 1 July 2019, providers must give a copy of the Charter to each consumer or authorised person and ensure that enough time is given for the Charter to be read and understood, before the Charter is signed by all parties [3] and kept on file.

 

What does the new Charter mean for members?

Providers have a duty to ensure all current and prospective consumers have received, understood and are comfortable with the applicable Charter for them. Once signed, the Charter is legally binding.

The aged care workforce will play a critical role in ensuring the Charter is clearly explained to consumers, authorised persons and other supports, such as family members. The workforce also has great responsibility in protecting the rights of consumers by carrying out their work in accordance with the new Charter.

As the people providing care to consumers, it is expected that our members will field a large volume of questions and concerns regarding the new Charter, particularly during the rollout phase. [4] The Government has also identified the workforce as a key group in assisting others to understand the new Charter, as well as being a stakeholder that will benefit from it. 

Providers will be given posters and information booklets by 1 July 2019. The information booklets have been designed to support providers and the workforce in conversations with consumers about the new Charter.

Prior to this, the aged care workforce is encouraged to participate in a free webinar on the new Charter, facilitated by the Older Persons Advocacy Network ( OPAN ). The Government has not made participation mandatory however, given the important role of the workforce in the initial and ongoing implementation of the new Charter, it is strongly recommended that members register for a webinar.

 

How can I get more information?

If this change effects the work you do, you may have already attended a webinar to provide you with more information. If you have not attended one of the free webinars, you can watch a recorded version by clicking here or going to: https://opan.com.au/videos/

You should also ensure that if you did attend a webinar, that you did so on rostered time at work, and that you received pay or time in lieu for hours spent doing so.

It is important to remember that while the new Charter is designed to deliver safe and respectful environments for consumers, it is also there to support providers and provide protection for the aged care workforce . [5] Ensuring all workers, members and non-members alike, are supported to learn about the new Charter, is essential to securing these protections.

 

[1] Aged Care Act 1997, Schedule 1 User Rights Principles 2014

[2] Older Persons Advocacy Network, website, 2019.

[3] All parties refer to the consumer or their authorised person and the primary provider.

[4] All requirements must be met by 30 September 2019 for existing consumers in residential care and short-term restorative care in a residential care setting and by 31 December 2019 for existing consumers in home care and short-term restorative care in a home care setting. See also Events and Key Dates .

[5] Older Persons Advocacy Network, website, 2019.