Nursing home abuse

Nursing home residents enjoy the same protections as everyone else in the community and also have rights protected by nursing home law.

We feel that quality treatment of nursing home residents has not been adequately enforced by the law.  We want to change this.  Elringtons’ health lawyers can help you with advice and representation for you or a loved one.

Elder abuse – what is it?

The Australian Law Reform Commission, in its report titled ‘Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response’, stated that:

Elder abuse, as described by the WHO, is ‘a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person’. It can take various forms, such as physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.

What rights do nursing home residents have?

Nursing home residents have the same rights as the wider community when it comes to their bodily integrity. By this, we mean that residents have the same universal right to determine what happens to their own bodies.

Nursing home residents also have special rights under the Aged Care Act, the law which governs nursing homes. The rights are called the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. These rights include:

  1. Full and effective use of personal, civil, legal and consumer rights
  2. Quality care appropriate to individual needs
  3. To be treated with dignity and respect
  4. To live without exploitation, abuse or neglect
  5. To live in a safe, secure and homelike environment
  6. To be treated and accepted as an individual
  7. To have individual preferences taken into account
  8. To be treated with respect
  9. To be free from reprisal, or a well founded fear of reprisal, in any form for taking action to enforce rights

For a full list of the 21 rights, see Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities – Residential Care 

What can I do if I am being abused or am concerned about a family member or friend?

There are a range of options available to you to protect yourself or a loved one.  These include:

  1. Contacting police when your safety is threatened
  2. Raising your concerns with the nursing home
  3. Making a complaint to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.
  4. Talking to an advocate at the Older Persons Advocacy Network.
  5. Talking to a health lawyer at elringtons.

Please see our article How to make an effective nursing home complaint for advice on making complaints.

How can an elringtons health lawyer help?

We offer a variety of services for healthcare consumers covering:

  1. Advice on treatment issues such as neglect, restrictive practices, consenting to treatment, negligence and battery (treatment when there’s been no consent)
  2. Complaints to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner
  3. Complaints to AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency)
  4. Human rights complaints
  5. Advising on and drafting health directives and enduring powers of attorney

Our services cover Canberra, Queanbeyan and southern NSW including Batemans Bay, Bega, Cooma, Goulburn, Merimbula and Yass.

Please feel free to contact Tom Maling to tell us your story and to see how we can help.

Further resources