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Sometimes problems occur and you may have a concern about the care you or a friend/relative receives. It is always best to try to resolve the complaint with the service provider first, but if this is not possible or the complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction, then you can lodge a more formal complaint.
What are my rights?
If you are moving into residential aged care you have certain rights and responsibilities. These are outlined in the Charter of Resident Rights and Responsibilities. Your aged care provider should give this document to you when you sign your Resident Agreement to accept the offer of a place.
For a copy of the Charter, click here.
How do I raise a complaint?
If you are not comfortable discussing your complaint with the service provider or it has not resolved the complaint to your satisfaction, you can contact the Aged Care Complaints Scheme.
1800 550 552
Aged Care Complaints Commissioner
This is a free service. It investigates complaints about aged care services which are subsidised by the Federal Government. This includes home and residential aged care services. You can raise a complaint about the quality of care or services, the physical environment, catering and the choice of activities. If your complaint is not something the scheme can help you to resolve, it will refer you to the appropriate organisation. If you are not happy with the outcome of the scheme’s decision you can request a review.
Can I get someone to help me make a complaint?
If you want to talk to an independent person about your concerns or you would like someone to attend the meetings with you, you can access Aged Care Advocacy to arrange for an advocate to help you.
These services are free, confidential and independent.
1800 700 600
Once you are offered a place in an aged care facility you will be given a Resident Agreement to be signed. This is a legal contract which sets out the conditions of your residency, your rights and responsibilities and those of the facility.
The Resident Agreement will include details on:
the level of care provided (low or high and any special needs)
the circumstances under which you can be asked to leave
the entry fees payable (either as a lump sum or daily fee)
the policies and practices for setting fees
if the facility is extra-service, the range of services provided and the fee payable or any additional service fees payable
details of the internal complaints resolution process.
You should read this document carefully before signing it and seek advice of family, your solicitor or financial adviser. Don’t feel pressured to sign the agreement immediately, but you should sign it as soon as possible so you can move in. You can ask someone else to sign the agreement on your behalf if you are unable to sign, or it can be signed by someone who has guardianship powers on your behalf.
In some cases, the service provider may require someone to act as guarantor to guarantee payment of your fees. This person may be required to sign a guarantee section included in the Resident Agreement.
Signing the agreement gives you security of tenure in the aged care service. This means you have the right to live there permanently or until you choose to leave. However, the agreement may have outlined some circumstances under which you could be asked to leave, for example non-payment of fees or your need for care that cannot be adequately provided within that service.
If you sign the agreement but then later change your mind you can cancel the contract by providing written notice to the aged care service provider with 14 days notice.
Short absenses from care
During each financial year, you are able to leave the service for up to 52 overnight stays and your place will still be held for you. This is called 'social leave'. The government will continue to pay subsidies on your behalf and you still need to pay your agreed fees. If you are away for more than 52 nights, the government will stop paying the subsidies and you might be asked to pay the full cost.
Kathleen lives in an aged care facility.
She is planning to attend her granddaughter’s wedding and will need to travel and stay with family for a week during this time.Kathleen will pay her normal daily care fees while she is away and will return to residential care at the end of the week.
If you need to spend time in hospital your place will be held for you until you return. The government will continue to pay subsidies on your behalf and you need to continue paying your care fees. This time does not count towards your 52 nights of social leave.
This article is prepared by the strategy specialists at Aged Care Steps, a company supporting financial planning advisers who provide planning advice for aged care. To find a professional adviser who specialises in aged care advice go to www.agedcaresteps.com.au and click on the Find an Adviser link.
Disclaimer: This is general advice and does not take into account your particular circumstances or objectives. Before taking any action you should seek personal financial planning, taxation or legal advice and refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before investing in any product. Aged Care Steps Pty Ltd ABN 42 156 656 843, AFSL 486723, registered tax (financial) advisers 25581502.
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