I realised when reading back over last week’s blog that I hadn’t really addressed the area of client responsibilities adequately.
We talk about client’s rights, and the importance of upholding these often in our services. But what about the responsibilities of clients? Sometimes, in our zeal to do the right thing by our clients, we overlook that important aspect – along with rights come responsibilities.
These responsibilities assist us in operating safe and viable services. Let’s look at the responsibilities of Community Care clients, or consumers as they are now called in the new terminology.
Consumers have a responsibility to ensure that their homes are a safe working environment for direct care staff. This helps us to make sure that staff working in those homes are not threatened by animals or other people, and they can do their job without the worry of injury or picking up an infection or illness.
Consumers need to alert the services to any changes they think they might need. They also need to understand that they can’t make arbitrary changes to the care support being provided. This is not to prevent a person from having the freedom to direct their own care, but an important way of protecting both the consumer and the care worker. Some activities require a risk assessment by the organisation before they are undertaken. We also need to protect our care workers from the potential for exploitation by a consumer or their family.
People have the right to make choices about how they live their life – even if that means they are taking a risk. This could include anything, from choosing not to take medication that could enhance or prolong their life, or choosing at 90 years of age to take up skydiving! Although coordinators and case managers may have concerns about the activities some clients want to undertake, or the things they refuse to do, they can’t stop them if the person has the mental capacity to assess the risk. However, if a consumer decides to undertake a risky activity, they have to accept the responsibility that goes along with that action, as well as any adverse outcomes.
Case Managers and Coordinators are not mind readers. Consumers, or their advocates, need to be speaking up and telling them what they need or want, or any problems they are having. Problems can’t be fixed if the service provider doesn’t know they exist.
Access to services
When a consumer goes away for a period of time or realises they no longer need a particular type of help, they have an obligation to let the coordinator or case manager of the service know. Good manners, and most likely organisational policy, would dictate that people let the service provider know as soon as possible – not wait until the last minute to ring up or tell someone they don’t need their service when they turn up on the doorstep.
Yes, there are some things in life that are free, but aged care services are not one of them. Consumers of services need to pay for the help they receive and that is becoming more evident in what we are seeing in the recently released Commonwealth Home Support Programme – National Fees Policy Consultation Paper. Further, to assist services in working out how much a person needs to pay for their care support, consumers will need to give information to the service about their income, including where it comes from and how much they receive.