What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is the process of standing beside someone and supporting them to:
- understand and exercise their rights
- have their voice heard on the issues that are important to them.
What is an Advocate?
An advocate is an impartial person, who will:
- take the time to listen to you and understand your views and wishes
- inform you of a rights and responsibilities
- assist you to explore your options
- support you to make informed decisions
- provide practical assistance such as help to write a letter or raise your concerns at a meeting
- speak for you in situations where you don’t feel able to speak for yourself
- increase your capacity to self-advocate
- have you voice heard on the issues that are important to you.
- engage with the aged care system including My Aged Care
- transition between aged care services
- make informed decisions about the care they receive
- exercise their right to choice in accessing and receiving aged care services
- have their aged care rights better understood, recognised and upheld
- resolve problems or complaints with aged care providers in relation to the aged care services they receive
- address issues that impact their ability to live in their own homes, with the aim of preventing premature admission to aged care facilities and focussing on wellness and reablement.
OPAN Advocacy Services
OPAN organisations offer aged care advocacy services that are independent and confidential. The services focus on supporting older people and their representatives to raise and address issues relating to accessing and interacting with Commonwealth funded aged care services. To find out more about the OPAN Organisation go to our OPAN Network Page.
OPAN organisations offer advocacy services that are rights based. They seek to ensure that aged care consumers understand and exercise their rights and participate, to the maximum degree possible, in the decisions affecting their care. OPAN organisation advocates always place the consumer at the centre of the process and act at the consumer’s direction.
OPAN organisation advocates are skilled and experienced professionals who have extensive aged care knowledge.
OPAN organisations assist older people, including their families and representatives:
- who are receiving Commonwealth-funded aged care services; or
- who are seeking to receive Commonwealth-funded aged care services.
Commonwealth funded aged care services that OPAN organisations can provide advocacy support for include:
- Residential aged care
- Home Care Packages
- Commonwealth Home Support Programme services (CHSP)
- The Commonwealth Continuity of Support (CoS) Programme
- Commonwealth-funded dementia services
- Flexible care services, including: the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program, the Innovation Pool Program, Multi-purpose services, Transition care and Short-term restorative care.
OPAN is committed to ensuring aged care advocacy services are accessible to all consumers including people who are Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, people living with dementia, Veterans and care leavers, people who are financially or socially disadvantaged, and people at risk of homelessness.
OPAN organisations support older Australians to address a range of issues relating to their Commonwealth funded aged care services. The following case examples provide a snapshot of some of the issues we have worked with clients to resolve.
TonyTony is the carer and Enduring Power of Attorney for his wife Rosa who has dementia. Rosa receives a number of in-home supports including assistance with showering. Tony contacted OPAN because Rosa’s home care service was sending a different support worker to shower Rosa each day and Tony noticed that Rosa was getting distressed undressing and showering in front of so many people who she was not familiar with. OPAN’s advocate listened to Tony’s concerns and informed Tony that Rosa had a right to be treated with dignity and to receive care that was respectful of her privacy and individual preferences. The advocate asked Tony who Rosa’s preferred support workers were and later supported Tony to discuss his concerns and Rosa’s care preferences with the Manager of the Home Care Service. Rosa now has two regular workers who provide showering assistance.
LoisLois receives a Level 4 Home Care Package and contacted OPAN because her Home Care Service refused to provide her with regular physiotherapy as part of her package. OPAN’s advocate listened to Lois’ concerns and informed Lois that she had the right to choose the type of care and services she would like to receive. The advocate assisted Lois to understand and review the budget for her Home Care Package and identified that Lois could afford to access physiotherapy once a fortnight. The advocate supported Lois to discuss her care preferences in a meeting with the Manager of the Home Care Service. The Manager suggested that Lois’ Home Care Package could not afford physiotherapy because the cost associated with transporting Lois to their physiotherapy clinic would take her over budget. The advocate assisted Lois to identify local physiotherapists that could deliver services in Lois’ own home, eliminating the need for transport. Lois’ Home Care Package now provides her with fortnightly in home physiotherapy services delivered by her preferred physiotherapist.
AlbertAlbert, who lives in a residential aged care facility, recently had a fall whilst walking through the facility garden. Following his fall, the facility told Albert that he was a falls risk and would now require assistance with showering. Albert contacted OPAN because he felt that this was a breach of his privacy. OPAN’s advocate listened to Albert’s concerns and informed Albert that he had the right to personal privacy and the right to make decisions about his care, even when those decisions might involve an element of risk. The advocate supported Albert to discuss his concerns with the Manager of the aged care facility. At this meeting it was agreed that Albert would sign a waiver accepting personal responsibility for any injury that may occur as a result of his decision to shower unassisted. Albert was happy with this outcome and continues to shower independently.
CarmenCarmen receives a cleaning service through the Commonwealth Home Support Program once a fortnight. Carmen contacted OPAN because her support worker had been cutting her regular service short by up to 20 minutes a shift and was not completing all the required cleaning tasks. Carmen was particularly concerned about her floors being mopped and not dried, as she recently slipped on wet tiles. OPAN’s advocate listened to Carmen’s concerns and informed her that she has the right to receive a reliable and safe service. The advocate supported Carmen to raise her concerns at a meeting with the Manager of the service who was not aware that Carmen’s service had been finishing early. The Manager also expressed concerned about the risks associated with Carmen’s floors being left wet. The Manager informed Carmen that as a result of her complaint, all staff would receive further training on ensuring client safety and would also be instructed to adhere to the allocated timeframes of a shift. In addition to this, the advocate assisted Carmen to prioritise tasks to be completed with each cleaning shift and ensured that this was clearly documented in Carmen’s care plan. Since the involvement of OPAN, Carmen has noticed a significant improvement in the quality of the cleaning service.