15 December 2022

What is Duty of Care in Aged Care?

9 min read

What is Duty of Care?

Duty of care – what does it imply? Is it different from the standard of care? Here we explore what defines it and what comes under its purview so that you can be assured of the best care possible. At Estia Health we exist to enrich and celebrate life together and our core values of compassion, responsiveness, accountability, respect and collaboration determine our care in everything we do. And when it comes to duty of care, we take this very seriously and go to great lengths to ensure that the rights and needs of residents are always put first.

In the strict legal sense, duty of care refers to the obligation not to cause harm or injury to another person that could be reasonably anticipated. In order to achieve this, capable, qualified staff are required, this is in addition to secure premises and high-quality clinical treatment within the aged care setting. However, caring has a much broader meaning than the traditional duty of care.

Duty of Care in the aged care setting

Duty of care is the responsibility of workers and carers not to cause harm or injury to anyone under their care and to uphold their rights. This means providing a standard of care and comfort as well as listening and allowing the person to make their own choices. Any instances of neglect or carelessness would be considered breaching the duty of care.

Everyone who works in the aged care industry has a duty of care to the clients or residents, plus other staff and to the general public who visit the home. All support and aged care staff must take care to minimise the risk of harm to another person through their actions.

There is a responsibility to ensure that the person is safe and poses no danger to themselves or others, but also that their rights and wishes are being respected.

Duty of care explained

A duty of care in aged care is the legal obligation on an individual or organisation to act in the best interests of residents. Duty of care laws are designed to protect all Australians, especially those who may be disadvantaged or receiving medical treatment and/or service.

To ensure that your loved one is well cared for, we provide the following services:

Detailed care plans – Our aged care plans outline the care our residents need, including information about your health conditions, medications and daily activities.
Care workers must follow the detailed care plans – Providers must do what they say they’ll do. Care workers will be given copies of your individualised plan so they know exactly what is expected of them.

Educated and Experienced Staff – We want to ensure that you or your loved one receives the best care, so all our staff are constantly training and updating their skills.

Compassionate Care – Every team member has undergone thorough pre-employment checks and qualifications, including police checks for working with vulnerable people.

Continuity of Staff – We ensure all staff members are briefed and notified of any changes that may affect you to maintain consistency of care.

24-hour Medical Care – We have a registered nurse available 24-hours a day for emergencies or sudden illnesses.

Stimulating Activities that challenge and inspire, motivating Residents to learn and interact, essentially building or maintaining their quality of life.

Every person employed by the aged care provider has a responsibility to act in a certain way towards residents. It’s essential that all those involved in the provision of aged care understand their role and the duty of care to residents.

A Breach of Duty of Care

A carer or aged care home can breach a duty of care by exposing a resident to risk and failing to protect them from harm. The need to protect residents is something that homes have to balance against the residents’ own wishes about how they live, and the risks that residents want to take (for example, their choice to drink alcohol, or to dance). Such risks afford residents dignity and are known as ‘dignity of risk.’

Under the Aged Care Act 1997 a breach of duty of care is considered “neglect,” and is reportable to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. Neglect may involve failing to provide appropriate medical treatment, food, water, or physical help (such as toileting). It also includes failing to monitor a patient’s health adequately.

How well do we care for your loved ones at Estia Health?

It is critically important that your loved ones feel safe, secure and respected where they live. And that means providing aged care residences that encompass all aspects of caring, including clinical, social and overall wellbeing. Our teams get to truly understand every individual, understand their needs and support them in their choices. If you feel that your loved one is being mistreated in their aged care residence, then it is imperative that you report it to “My Aged Care” immediately. Where a resident or family member raises such concerns with us, you can be assured that we will also notify the Commission ourselves.
Additionally, we would like any resident or their family to directly let us know at our homes if you feel that our care could be improved. The care, attention and respect of our residents is extremely important to us and we take enormous pride in ensuring that every resident is treated with dignity, respect and compassion.

The rights and entitlements as a resident.

1. Safe and high-quality care and services
2. Be treated with dignity and respect
3. Have your identity, culture and diversity valued and supported
4. Live without abuse or neglect
5. Be informed about your care and services in a way you understand
6. Access all personal information about rights, care and services
7. Have control over and make choices about y our care, personal and social life, including where the choices involve personal risk
8. Have control over and make decisions about the personal aspects of your daily life, financial affairs and possessions
9. Independence
10. Be listened to and understood
11. Have a person of your choice, including an aged care advocate, support you or speak on your behalf if specified
12. Complaining, free from reprisal and have your complaints dealt with fairly and promptly
13. Personal privacy and to have your personal information protected
14. Exercise your rights without it adversely affecting the way you were treated.

You can find further information here: The Charter of Aged Care Rights describes the rights of an older person receiving care from an Australian Government-subsidised aged care service. These rights apply to all those who receive care, regardless of the type or level of care, respite care, long term care, our homes and dementia care.