Nov 29, 2022

Self-advocacy toolkit empowers older peoples’ aged care choices

A toolkit designed to equip aged care clients with self-advocacy skills has been released today, encouraging older people to speak up about the care services they receive. 

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) released its online Self-advocacy toolkit to provide older people with skills, information and resources about their rights and entitlements when accessing aged care, and how to flag any issues with their provider.

The Charter of Aged Care Rights stipulates aged care clients are entitled to their independence, to be involved in their care and to receive information about their care in a way they can understand. 

OPAN Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Craig Gear, said they wanted to create a ‘one-stop show’ of all the self-advocacy essentials – cutting through the “Government speak” to ensure all older people understood what they are entitled to. 

“This information can be difficult to find and it is sometimes difficult to navigate that information,” he explained.

“Often we find ‘Government speak’ has a particular language that isn’t always easy to engage with, so we’ve worked with our Older Persons Reference Group and listened to them on how we respectfully with dignity talk in a language that can unpack some of that Government speak so people have confidence that they have an understanding of their care needs and how to work with a provider.”

Being able to self-advocate for yourself allows you to get all the information you need to support your rights while receiving aged care.

Collating important information from places like the Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, topics covered in the toolkit include:

  • Aged care options
  • Protecting yourself from harm
  • Help with decision making
  • Aged care costs

Aged care workers and providers can also talk to their clients about the toolkit and the importance of self-advocacy.

Sometimes, communication between a client and their aged care worker or provider can erode to a point where clients or their support network feel like they can’t voice any of their issues with the care being provided. 

Mr Gear emphasised that feedback should not be feared by workers or providers as it can help lift the standards of care as the sector works to reform and offers a level of transparency that other clients would likely gravitate towards.

“Feedback is the window to your organisation like the window to your soul,” he said. 

“Often we find when older people come to us about issues and then we work with them and their provider, the provider often says ‘I didn’t know,’ or ‘I didn’t understand the impact this is having on you,’ and the communication between them is broken down.

“This toolkit isn’t putting the responsibility on just older people and their support network, but it’s saying that you can play an important role in helping providers improve.” 

For more information about the toolkit or to access an advocate, call OPAN on 1800 700 600 or visit their website.

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