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Review of the Charter of Residents’ Rights and Responsibilities

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The Department of Health has released a consultation paper on the development of a single Charter of Aged Care Rights to replace the existing charters set out in the User Rights Principles 2014.

The User Rights Principles 2014 currently contain four charters relating to the rights and responsibilities of aged care recipients for:

  1. Residential care;
  1. Home care;
  1. Short term restorative care (residential care setting); and
  1. Short term restorative care (home care setting).

The proposed Charter of Aged Care Rights will replace the existing charters and will apply uniformly to all aged care recipients. The consultation paper sets out a number of reasons to support the adoption of a single Charter of Aged Care Rights, including:

  1. There is considerable duplication between the existing charters;
  1. There are also differences between the charters and this raises the question as to why some consumers are not afforded the same rights as others;
  1. A single charter across aged care will make rights clearer for consumers; and
  1. A single charter will reduce regulatory compliance for providers who deliver multiple types of care.

This is another step in the consumer directed care journey with the focus squarely on the consumer’s rights. Whilst the simplification is welcome, the new proposed charter deletes the previous specific reference in the charter to a consumer’s responsibilities. This lack of recognition of any consumer responsibilities is disturbing. The consultation paper acknowledges that consumers and consumer groups agreed that “an individual’s rights need to be balanced with the rights of others” but suggests that this need has been addressed in the preamble to the single charter which contains an acknowledgement that “others involved in their aged care service” have the same rights.

There is no evidence that the inclusion of the responsibilities in the existing charters has had a negative impact on consumers. Many would argue that they were largely ignored but at least they existed and provided some recognition that those who care have the right to a safe work place.

This is perhaps an example of how the pendulum can swing in favour of consumers when regulators are faced with the fallout from almost continual negative media attention.

The Department of Health is now accepting public consultation on the draft Charter of Aged Care Rights, with responses due by 10 October 2018. Copies of the consultation paper and draft Charter of Aged Care Rights are available online via this link.

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