Did you know there is free individual advocacy available to older Australians and their families? The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) runs nation-wide.
Here is a rundown of what OPAN is, how it operates, who it helps and what that means for you.
What is OPAN?
OPAN is an Australian-wide not for profit company funded by the Australian Government's Department of Health.
It has nine member organisations across the country:
ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS)- ACT
Advocacy Tasmania Inc.- TAS
Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia- QLD
Aged Care Advocacy Service, CatholicCare- NT
Seniors and Disability Rights Service of Darwin Community Legal Service- NT
Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS)- SA
Elder Rights Advocacy (ERA)- VIC
Seniors Rights Service- NSW
What OPAN does
OPAN runs the National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP) which provides free, independent and confidential advocacy support to those who need it. They also educate people about aged care service provision and consumers' rights and responsibilities.
They also campaign for the rights of older people and run projects to address serious issues such as elder abuse. OPAN has received grants (most recently $2 million last May) from the government to run prevention programs and review and roll out elder abuse advocacy services.
OPAN are also currently assisting people prepare and submit statements to the Royal Commission into Aged Care.
Who OPAN helps
OPAN is a fantastic resource for a wide section of society:
Older Australians who are seeking or currently receiving care
The families and friends of people seeking or currently in care
Aged care service providers
Members of the public
How to utilise OPAN's services
You might be unclear on what your rights are in an aged care home (sometimes known as a nursing home or residential aged care facility), or you need to access an aged care service but are unsure of where to turn.
Maybe you have a complaint related to the aged care service system and are unsure how to raise it, or need support to do so. Or you might just want to talk to an independent party (not a family member or your aged care provider) about a concern you have about your care.
Even reaching out for help or advice can be intimidating, but that's what OPAN are there for. And you're not alone- OPAN estimates that it helps 21,000 people each year.
To access OPAN's services, you can call their hotline on 1800 700 600 (available from 8.00am - 8.00pm Monday to Friday. Their website has an online chat function and you can send an online request through the site as well.