How ARAS advocates
ARAS provides a free, confidential,and independent service to older people (or their representatives), who are:
- Consumers or potential consumers of services in high or low care aged care facilities subsidised by the Australian Government, or receiving community based aged care services including community aged care packages, and have a concern about those services: or
- At risk of, or are experiencing abuse by family, friends or someone they should be able to trust.
Aboriginal Advocates are available to older Aboriginal people.
ARAS recognises the important role of significant others, including families, in supporting and upholding the rights of older people.
ARAS advocates work directly with the permission of the older person, which involves the advocate taking direction from the older person. In order to take direction an advocate must be confident that the older person is able to make their own decisions and able to give direction in an informed way.
For an older person to make an informed decision the older person must have mental capacity. A person's mental capacity can be affected by illnesses such as dementia, intellectual disability, severe mental illness, stroke or acquired brain injury.
While it is not the role of an advocate to assess a person's informed decision making ability and mental capacity, an advocate has a duty of care to clarify if a person's decision making ability or mental capacity may be in question if it is relevant to the presenting issue ie the person may not be able to make an informed decision on the presenting issue.
The degree to which a person needs to be informed will generally be recognised as greater for more important decisions rather than relatively trivial decisions.
Where an older person is unable to express their wishes, the advocate will take steps to identify significant others relating to the older person, including family and friends. The ARAS advocate will work with the representative of the older person when they are seen to be acting in the 'best interest' of the older person.
What will happen when you ring ARAS
The ARAS advocate will listen and ask questions in order to clarify the specific issues of concern. They will provide accurate information about the rights of the older person and strategies to resolve the problem. The advocate will discuss any negative consequences that may arise from a particular action.
The older person may choose to speak for themselves or prefer their representative or an ARAS advocate to speak on their behalf (Note: the advocates in the Abuse Prevention Program will not confront the alleged abuser). The older person or their representative will be consulted and kept fully informed during the advocacy process. The association with ARAS is continuous until the issues are resolved.
If ARAS is unable to resolve the older persons concerns, the advocate will provide information and referral to services which can assist.
Points to consider
The advocate will follow clear procedures re working with the older person and/or their representative.
- The advocate will assist the older person to express their wishes.
- The older person chooses who will be their representative.
- When there is conflict between representatives, the best interests of the older person, based on their previously expressed and present wishes will determine what happens.
- When the older person's best interests are at risk, ARAS will refer to more formal means to resolve conflict and ensure that the older person's rights are safeguarded.
ARAS offers a free, confidential and independent service. We can arrange to visit you in your home or by appointment in our offices.
We can also arrange an interpreter if needed and our brochure is available in other languages. If you would like to order some brochures visit our publications page.
ARAS information is available on CD