Here’s our summary of some of the latest information and developments in relation to aged care during the pandemic.
Inquiry into Newmarch House needed
It has been heartbreaking to hear of the deaths due to COVID-19 at Newmarch House and other aged care facilities. Our principal, Catherine Henry, who is also the Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesperson on aged care and elder law, called for an independent inquiry into Newmarch House. Her call received considerable media and public interest. Read more here.
Since that call went out it has been announced that NSW Coroner will investigate COVID-19 related deaths of residents of Newmarch House. To echo the daughter of the last resident to die with the virus – it is good that this matter is being looked at by someone outside Newmarch and NSW Health. The residents of Newmarch House and their families, and we, as a community, all need to understand what went wrong in the management of the outbreak at this facility.
No penalty to residents for leaving their facility due to COVID-19
The Government has changed the law so residents don’t have to pay to hold their place if they leave their aged care facility temporarily because of COVID-19 or similar emergencies. The Government will continue to pay subsidies for residents on emergency leave. They have also backdated eligibility to April 1, 2020. Read more here.
New Aged Care Visitor Access Code
Aged care advocates and the aged care industry have developed a national 13-point code for visiting aged care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are separate regulations in place between states and territories but this code does seek to provide some national consistency and clarity to the aged care sector, residents and families.
Importantly, there is a suggested access resolution process for families who feel they are being unfairly prevented from visiting their loved one. Read more about the code and key recommendations here.
Complaints about care or access
If you have a concern about access or care, please speak up. Talk to the manager of your aged care facility. It is a good idea to put your concerns in writing and ask for a written response. If you are not satisfied you can contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. Our caring, experienced team can help you draft your complaint or advocate on your behalf.
There is also the option in taking legal action against a facility or health care or aged care professionals. We also have experience in assisting clients with coronial inquests. Please call us on 1800 874 949 to confidentially discuss your needs.
Please feel free to share this information sheet with aged care residents or their families.