Access to Specialist Advocacy Services now available for people with dementia in aged care

The Australian Government has funded a National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP) to provide free, confidential advocacy support and information to consumers—or potential consumers—of Australian Government subsidised Home Care Packages and residential aged care services.

Dementia Australia National President Professor Graeme Samuel AC said that a nationally consistent advocacy service model would help to protect consumers through the process of an evolving aged care system.

Professor Samuel also welcomed Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP’s comments that ‘individual advocacy support is critical to empowering consumers to exercise their choice,’ which were made while releasing the final report of the Review into Commonwealth Aged Care Advocacy Services, with the Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport the Hon Sussan Ley MP.

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“People accessing aged care services need to be empowered and have their rights protected, especially people living with dementia who have unique needs that cannot be met by a broad approach to advocacy,” Professor Samuel said.

“There is no one-size-fits-all advocacy approach for people living with dementia. They require assistance from people with knowledge about the condition, including the sensitivities related to dementia, in order for the advocacy process to be effective.”

Following the release of the Review of Commonwealth Aged Care Advocacy Services report nine community-based NACAP organisations have begun operating nationally, one in each state and territory, and two in the Northern Territory. 

NACAP organisations provide information and support to consumers or potential consumers of aged care services, their carers and families about their rights and responsibilities when accessing services.

An NACAP advocate can give you information about your rights and responsibilities, listen to your concerns, help you resolve problems or complaints with your aged care service provider, speak with your service provider if you wish and refer you to other agencies when needed.

Anyone receiving aged care services can get advice and support from an advocacy service. 

This includes people who receive residential care, receive a Home Care Package, receive transition care, have been assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), have previously received an aged care service or are representing the interests of the person receiving aged care services.

NACAP can support consumers who are looking to receive residential aged care services or Home Care Packages to be involved in decisions that affect their life and their care needs and provide consumers receiving or who are going to receive residential aged care services or Home Care Packages with information and advice about their rights and responsibilities.

NACAP advocates are able to assist consumers of residential aged care services or Home Care Packages and/or their representatives to resolve problems or complaints in relation to aged care services, through the provision of advocacy and promoting the rights of consumers receiving residential aged care services or Home Care Packages to aged care service providers.

Dementia Australia National CEO Carol Bennett said although Dementia Australia welcomes a nationally consistent approach to aged care advocacy services, the process would also have to allow flexibility to be responsive to the needs of individuals.

“It is essential that the system is able to respond to the complex individual needs which are created by conditions like dementia. A short-term approach to advocacy would be inadequate. Dementia results in ongoing cognitive decline, so support is needed through the various stages of the illness,” Ms Bennett said.

“Specialist advocacy by people with knowledge, skills and expertise of dementia is going to be necessary, to ensure people living with dementia’s particular needs are being met through this very important process. It will be imperative for people living with dementia as we move towards consumer directed care in aged care.”

To find out more of contact an advocate you can call the National Aged Care Advocacy line on 1800 700 600. You can read the final report Review of Commonwealth Aged Care Advocacy Services