John’s wife lives in a nursing home and overall seems happy with the care that she receives. However, recently the staff seem to be very busy and do not attend to her toileting as regularly as she needs, which is distressing his wife. When he speaks to staff they are too busy to attend for some time. John is her representative and she has indicated that she wants him to intervene on her behalf. Is he within his rights to complain?
Peter has dementia and lives in an aged care facility. Pam, his wife, has been asked not to visit at certain times and when she does visit, Peter appears hungry, disoriented and unwashed. On one recent visit, there was a bruise on Peter’s upper arm and he was visibly shaken. Peter said that the nurse is neglecting him and being rough. The nurse says that Peter’s age and dementia is causing him to make up stories, bruise easily and look dishevelled. Pam doesn’t know who to believe or what to do.
What are your rights?
A person’s rights do not diminish when he or she moves into a nursing home or hostel, regardless of his or her physical or mental frailty or ability to exercise or fully appreciate his or her rights. Everyone has a right to receive a service that is appropriate to their needs. For example, in scenario 1, John’s wife has the right to be taken to the toilet as needed and within a reasonable amount of time. She should not have to wait unnecessarily, causing distress or discomfort, and compromising her right to be treated with dignity.
No older person should be subjected to any form of abuse, often referred to as ‘elder abuse’, as suspected in scenario 2. Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual or financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.
There is legislation that protects people in aged care facilities and which imposes obligations on service providers. If the service provider breaches their obligations to an older person, then the person or their representative may complain. There must be an internal process within the facility for dealing with complaints. If the internal complaint resolution is not appropriate or the complaint is not dealt with favourably, you can contact the Aged Care Complaints Scheme.
What to do?
If you have any concerns or complaints regarding the provision of aged care services, you can contact the Aged Care Complaints Scheme, or if there are concerns about Elder Abuse, the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit.
Phone: 07 4639 0358