Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Mar-Apl 2012 Contents CAREX 2012
'Australia's premier health & aged care expo'
Melbourne, April 18 & 19, Caulfield Racecourse
Sydney, August 8 & 9, Rosehill Racecourse
• Attendees - Free admission, register online now at
All enquiries re exhibiting or attending, contact:
Wayne Woff, Manager, Total Aged Services
P: 03 9571 5606 / 0422 484 209 F: 03 9571 9708
CAREX supported by:
For all details, see Expo Program
enclosed with this issue
IT'S A MATTER OF TRUST
TARS is an independent advocacy service
for older people receiving Commonwealth-
funded aged care services. We provide non-
legal advocacy for residents of aged care
homes and hostels to help them deal with
service providers. TARS also incorporates
the Older Persons Legal Service, funded
through Legal Aid NSW to provide legal
advice and assistance where appropriate to
any person over 60 years of age. We hear
many instances of subtle and blatant abuse
of older people in aged care homes.
Older people who have been
financially exploited and lost their funds
may find themselves in debt to the aged
care home. The Aged Care Act 1997
allows homes to take action to collect
unpaid fees that are unpaid for more
than 41 days. Unfortunately 41 days'
worth of fees can be a princely sum for
a pensioner, the recovery of which can
cause the resident hardship.
If the debt is allowed to build further,
it can become impossible for the older
person to repay or for the facility to
collect and may result in the older person
being asked to leave the home.
TARS is aware of some cases where
the debt has been allowed to grow for
six months before any action was taken.
The resident is often completely oblivious
to the situation believing their pension
is covering the fee and their child is
managing the payments for them.
So the older person not only loses
their funds but becomes very distressed,
traumatised and does not know where to
turn or who to trust.
Early detection of financial exploitation
could go a long way to prevent a the
situation from becoming drastic. Staff and
Management and staff of aged care homes
need to be vigilant and detect early signs
Alarm bells should ring if the resident's
financial controller asks them to sign a
blank cheque, if they are unwilling to
provide a bank statement as requested
by the resident, or if aged care facility
fees are not being paid or are lapsing.
Occasionally, professional looking
men or women clutching brief cases will
visit a resident with diminished capacity
and get them to sign a legal document.
It is also common to later discover that
in this case, the professional was there
to unscrupulously change the resident's
Will or appoint a Power of Attorney to
Residents with phones in their rooms
have also fallen victim to the many
scams in operation, and it is the family
members or management of aged care
homes who are left scrambling to get
the elderly resident out of the contract
they mistakenly signed, involving a
holiday cruise or merchandise they never
intended to buy.
Managers and staff working in aged
care have the responsibility of ensuring
protocols are in place, that they work and
are followed to ensure the protection of
the older vulnerable people in their care.
STAFF AND RESIDENT
Financial abuse is more difficult to
detect than other forms of abuse, and
possibly even more difficult to prove.
However, with a raised awareness of the
potential for financial abuse, it can be
prevented or stopped.
Staff need to report any incident or
feelings of suspicion to their manager and
such incidents need to be documented
with file notes, made at the time of the
incident, with all levels of management
aware of the incident. Doing this goes
some way to protecting the older person
and it also fulfils the staff member's
responsibilities, thus protect them as well.
Not all children of older residents are
attempting to snatch their inheritance
early but we all need to be vigilant against
those few who are.
In these cases, the abuse may be
theft or fraud and may become a police
matter. The Aged-Care Rights Service
legal division (The Older Persons Legal
Service) can give legal advice to the
older resident if they contact us. The
manager should contact the police to
report a crime of theft and then call their
professional association for legal advice
and direction. n
Tom Cowen is the manager of legal
services for TARS and Pat Joyce is the
manager of TARS' advocate services.
TARS runs information sessions about residents' rights and responsibilities for NSW-based
aged care residents and staff. It also offers advocacy, advice and referral services to
people concerned about the welfare of an aged care resident.
W: www.tars.com.au; T: Sydney callers 02 9281 3600; toll-free callers 1800 424 079.
AAA | MARCH -- APRIL 2012 | 31
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