People receiving aged care either in a residential setting or through a home care package and their representatives, such as family members, are being urged to become more involved with their care through membership of a consumer advisory body.
From December 1, 2023 all approved aged care providers must have a consumer advisory body in place or have made an invitation to people they provide care for and their representatives to join one.
Organisations that applied to become an approved aged care provider on or after December 1, 2022 were required to establish a consumer advisory body from day one, however providers approved before this date had until December 1, 2023 to issue offers for membership.
Members of consumer advisory bodies give feedback to their aged care service which must consider the feedback when making any decisions; and must then inform the consumer advisory body how the feedback was considered.
The aged care provider must ask consumers and their representatives if they would like to join a consumer advisory body at least once every 12 months, along with giving information on how the body will work and how they will select members if there are too many nominations.
All approved providers have to establish a consumer advisory body except for those who are state or territory approved providers or a local government authority.
Commonwealth Home Support Program and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Care providers are also not required as they are not covered by Strengthening Provider Governance reforms.
Older Person's Advocacy Network chief executive Craig Gear said the December 1 deadline was fast approaching and he urged people receiving aged care to get involved.
"An established consumer advisory body is imperative to giving residents a voice and to provide feedback not only to management, but also boards, to ensure a healthy and sustainable living environment.
"As we age, our rights are eroded, so these bodies will be critical to preserve and protect the wellbeing of residents," said Mr Gear.
Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson said the advisory bodies were important as they gave consumers the opportunity to have a say on the way services and care were delivered, gave them a voice on issues that impacted them and helped them to be an equal partner in their own care.
Aged & Community Care Providers Association chief executive Tom Symondson said members have for some time been preparing for the requirement to offer consumers and their representatives the opportunity to establish a consumer advisory body.
"Many (ACCPA) members already have a range of existing consumer engagement and communication mechanisms in place. They continue to be active in reviewing these in order to make any potential adjustments to comply with the requirements.
"The benefits to consumers and leaders of aged care providers alike are expected to be highly positive, as together they consider the feedback and input by a collective of consumers on the services delivered, and when making decisions regarding the quality of care provided."
If a provider does not currently have a consumer advisory body and care recipients have not received an invitation to join a consumer advisory body after December 1, they should speak to their aged care provider or contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission 1800- 951-822 www.agedcarequality.gov.au
Free support and advice is also available from the Older Persons Advisory Network on 1800-700-600 opan.org.au.
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