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Duty of Care in Aged Care & Nursing Homes

Duties & Responsibilities of Care

Duty of care is a concept that may not be obvious to conceptualise. How far does a duty of care reach? What does it cover? The term does have a specific definition as according to The Department of Health of Australia, who outlines it in a summary as:

The principle of duty of care is that you have an obligation to avoid acts or omissions, which could be reasonably foreseen to injure or harm other people. This means that you must anticipate risks for your clients and take care to prevent them coming to harm. Remember that harm encompasses both physical and emotional harm.”

From this definition, we can understand that a duty of care is the responsibility of an employer or care institution to provide a safe place where workers or residents are not placed in the way of reasonably foreseen harm. This is most relevant in the context of a traditional working environment but can also be applied to a hospital or care institution such as an aged care home.

What is the Duty of Care in Aged Care?

In an aged care context, the overarching duty of care concept is similar to other personal injury cases, but there are some slight differences. The Charter of Aged Care Rights outlines the rights of Aged Care and Nursing Home residents, as well as the duties and responsibilities of those tasked with the care services. All aged care providers which are Australian Government funded are required to comply with the Charter.

The Charter has been formulated so that the duty of care towards Aged Care residents is clear for all of those involved, including residents and providers. 

What Are Some Examples of Duty of Care in Aged Care?

Some examples of the rights that those in aged care have include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Safe, high quality care and services
  2. Dignified and respectful treatment
  3. Your identity, culture and diversity valued and supported
  4. Abuse and neglect-free living
  5. Your independence
  6. Informed about your care and services in a way you understand
  7. Access all information about yourself, including information about your rights, care and services
  8. Control over personal and social life, care, finances, possessions choices and more where choices involve personal risk
  9. Have control over, and to make decisions about, the personal aspects of your daily life, financial affairs and possessions
  10. Personal privacy and personal information protected
  11. Have your voice heard in respect to complaints
  12. Exercising your rights without it adversely affecting the way you are treated
  13. Be listened to and understood

A full list of your rights as an aged care recipient can be found here.

Breaches of Duty of Care in Aged Care

Breaches of the duty of care for Aged Care residents are unacceptable, and something all Aged Care providers should have zero-tolerance. However, they do happen occasionally. An example of a breach in the duty of care for an Aged Care resident could include any of the rights mentioned above.

If your elderly loved one has told you of an occasion or number of occasions where their carers or nurses have left them feeling disrespected, neglected or discriminated against, call the Australian Elder Abuse hotline on 1800 ElderHelp (1800 3535 374) or contact us today. Through this hotline, you can find advice and resources to assist yourself and others. You can also provide a formal complaint through the My Aged Care website.

Breaches in the duty of care in Aged Care homes take several forms and are serious offenses. If you believe your loved ones or others in an Aged Care facility are experiencing any of the above poor treatment and a duty of care has been breached, call the Australian Elder Abuse hotline or contact us today.

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