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Action plan ignores locked dementia units

The new, 10-year National Dementia Action Plan fails to address the segregation and detention of people living in aged care, according to OPAN CEO Craig Gear.

‘We strongly support this joint initiative between the federal, state and territory governments,’ Mr Gear said.

‘We believe it will raise awareness of, and provide appropriate services and supports to, people living with dementia as well as their carers and families.

‘But we are concerned that the current draft makes no mention of the human rights of people living with dementia.’

Mr Gear said members of OPAN’s National Older Persons Reference Group had drawn particular attention to the draft plan’s lack of action around locked dementia units.

‘And, as we note in our recent submission paper, people living with dementia are also frequently denied their rights in community and health care settings, and by family or appointed Guardians or Attorneys.’

Supported decision-making

Mr Gear referenced an upcoming paper ‘Can your guardian stop people contacting you?’, developed by Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA) as part of their Compass project.

‘As I told the Disability Royal Commission, there is a common misunderstanding within the community and the aged care sector that if a substitute decision-maker has been appointed for medical decisions, an older person cannot make day-to-day decisions for themselves or participate in larger decisions relating to their lifestyle, health and wellbeing.

‘I provided practical examples of how the work of OPAN and others around supported decision-making had prevented abuse.’

Powers are open to abuse

Mr Gear said older peoples’ wishes and preferences were respected by many Guardians and Attorneys, but the legislative constraints outlined in the Compass paper were open to misuse and abuse – be it intentional or unintentional.

‘Older people have a right to be informed about, and participate in, decisions that concern them.

‘People who require support in decision-making must be provided with access to the support necessary for them to make, communicate and participate in decisions that affect their lives.’

Visit OPAN’s Self-advocacy toolkit for in-depth resources to help with decision-making. 

If you are being prevented from making decisions or you have concerns that a substitute decision-maker is not supporting the wishes or preferences of an older person, call OPAN’s advocacy line on 1800 700 600.