My wife lives in a nursing home and overall seems happy
with the care that she receives. However, recently
the staff seem to be very busy and do not attend to
her toileting as regularly as she needs. When I speak
to staff they are too busy to attend for some time.
My wife finds this very distressing. I am her representative
and she has indicated that she wants me to intervene
on her behalf.
What can I do?
Your wife has the right to be taken to the toilet as
needed and within a reasonable amount of time. She
should not have to wait unnecessarily, causing distress
or discomfort, and compromising her right to be treated
Talk to a senior staff member about how your wife's
continence needs are being managed. Was there
an assessment of her needs? Has there been a review?
Is there enough staff available to meet the needs
Discuss the frequency and pattern of this problem
as it occurs for your wife and identify if there
is a particular time that is more problematic.
Seek a second opinion from a medical practitioner
if there is any indication that there might be
some change to this pattern that needs further
As your wife's representative it is your right to be
consulted and informed about all aspects of her health
and care. You can contribute to improving your wife's
experience of life in the home and provide useful
information to care providers about preferences and
likes when formulating and updating the Care Plan.
My mother lives in a nursing home. I am very happy
with the care she receives but recently she has been
unwell and her medication has increased and changed.
I would like to know what each tablet is for and how
long she is expected to take them. As my mother's
representative am I entitled to a full explanation?
I am very concerned and would like to know why my
mother takes so much medication.
Yes, you must be informed and consulted about your
mother's care which includes the prescription and
administration of her medication.
Talk to your mother's doctor and ask why each
medication is prescribed, how long it will be
administered, and any side effects it may have.
Talk to a senior staff member who should be able
to inform you about your mother's medication regime
and how she is responding to it.
Seek a second medical opinion
As your mother's representative it is your right to
be fully informed about all aspects of her health
Can the home ask me to move from my room to
another room in the facility?
Yes, but only if the move is necessary on genuine medical
grounds as assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team
or at least two medical practitioners who are competent
to assess your needs. One of those assessors should
be a practitioner of your choice.
Other than for medical reasons, you cannot be moved
unless you want to move.
What will happen if my care needs change?
home can ask you to leave if your care needs change
significantlyand they can no longerprovidethecare
you need. In cases of increasing need, an Aged Care
Assessment Team or two medical practitioners, competent
to assess your needs, must first assess you. One of
the practitioners should be of your choosing.
During this process, the home must not take action
to make you leave or imply that you must leave until
suitable and affordable accommodation is available,
and give you at least 14 days written notice.
Ageing in Place is encouraged by the Department of
Health and Aged Care, which subsidises residential
care. It aims to prevent residents having to change
facilities as care needs change. However, if your
care needs change significantly it is not always possible
to provide Ageing in Place. The final decision to
offer Ageing in Place rests with the home concerned.
Do I keep my room if I go into hospital?
Yes, if you are a permanent resident. If you have to spend
time in hospital your place at the home will be kept for
your return. You will continue to pay the daily care fee
while in hospital.
I am receiving help at home which I really need. However,
the care workers are not doing things the way I would
like them to. Is it alright to tell them what to do and
how to do it, or will I jeopardise my service if they
It is alright to discuss with your care worker what
you would like them to do and how you would like them
to do it. Sometimes you may find that workers have
different ways of performing a task such as lifting,
showering or transferring you.
No one should take offence at being requested, politely,
to do something for you in your home. If they do,
or there is a problem of any sort with a care worker,
you can always contact the co-ordinator of the service
and discuss the matter with him or her.
Legislation governing home-based services has been
developed to ensure that "Each consumer's complaint
about a service…is dealt with fairly, promptly, confidently,
confidentially and without retribution."
My father cannot speak English very well and cannot understand
the person who comes to shower him. This makes things
difficult for everyone. Can anything be done about this?
Your father has a right to receive a service that is appropriate
to his needs. He could request that the agency send him
a care worker who speaks his language. He (or a family
member) could speak to the coordinator of the service
My mother really needs help if she is going
to stay living in her own home. She is very independent
and reluctant to accept any assistance at all. Where do
I begin to find out about services and will they be provided
in a way that enables my mother to stay in control of
There is a range of agencies which provide
services for older people, depending on the type and level
of assistance required. Organisations to contact include
your Local Government, Council on the Ageing (COTA), Citizens/Seniors
Information, community care services, district nursing
service and your advocacy
service. The legislated standards for Home
and Community Care services state your right to information,
consultation and choice about your care.
I am not happy with the way my daughter treats
me. I am worried because she yells at me and pushes me
around when she wants money. I don't think it is right
what she is doing to me. How can an older persons advocacy
service help me?
you are experiencing may be physical abuse or mistreatment
from your daughter. An advocacy service can:
Provide you with information in relation to the
management of your finances, property and assets
and to consider safeguards
to protect your finances*
in case of illness, accidents, or mental
Help you plan to be safe and feel safe by providing
you with information and strategies of who can
help so you can address the physical abuse you
The Doctor has just diagnosed my dad as having
dementia. Mum and dad have never got on well together,
they often argue. Mum said to me that she is sick of dad
and that he stresses her out. As a daughter what can I
do to help them?
You can assist by talking to your mother about
her concerns and encouraging her to access and use community
services. Once your mother has agreed to have community
services, you can help by contacting a local aged care
service provider and ask them to arrange services for
her and your father for example: Aged Care Assessment
Team (ACAT) for care services; Counselling for individual,
relationship and marriage counselling; Mediation for an
approach to resolving family conflict; Alzheimer's
Association for support to families in their
caring role; Carers
Association for information and advice about
services available to carers.
My father has early dementia, he lives at
home and manages with the help of a housekeeper. Lately
other family members have been saying that dad needs to
go into a nursing home. Dad told me that he wants to stay
at home, but I think that there will be arguments in the
family over this. Should I apply to be his guardian and
how do I do it?
In situations like this if a person has dementia and
there are concerns that others may not uphold their
rights or wish to stay at home, then an application
can be made by the concerned person, to the Guardianship
Board for a Guardianship Order to be guardian of the
older person with dementia. This then gives the delegated
guardian the legal right to make decisions on choices
of accommodation, health and lifestyle matters and
relationship with others for the benefit of that person.
Guardians do have responsibilities. The guardian is
a substitute decision maker for that person and must
ensure that they make decisions about certain aspects
of the person's life in the way that they would have
wished it to be carried out.
Last week I heard on the radio that there
are some safeguards that you can undertake to protect
your finances and prevent financial abuse occurring. What
are these safeguards?
To ensure your finances are managed in a way you would
want you can write conditions that act as safeguards
into your Enduring Power of Attorney document. Safeguards
need to be considered in case of illness, accidents,
mental incapacity, or because someone you trust may
try to take advantage of you.
Conditions would include giving clear and written direction
to those you choose to assist eg., nominees on your
bank account, donees of your Power of Attorney or
your financial manager and deciding what you would
like them to assist you with ie., paying bills, selling
property, managing investments. Carefully choose the
person/s who will manage these, by asking yourself
do you trust them implicitly? Remember, most financial
abuse, is committed by people you know and trust.
Choose when they are to help you. Is it immediately,
or only when you lose the ability to make decisions?
The building in of conditions to act as safeguards
assist those, taking on the role of managing your
finances, to be clear about what you want and act
in your best interest. Go to the safeguards
* Click on the link to download the Safeguards document (This is