The older person’s advocacy network OPAN is expanding its aged care advocacy services and will launch a nationwide recruitment drive for local advocates.

Margaret Crothers

OPAN’s NSW arm, the Seniors Rights Service, has started recruiting advocates from the local community to give older Australians a voice within the aged care system.

Seniors Rights Service says hopes to have new services available in Sydney and Western Sydney by the end of the year.

The advocates will provide free and independent information, education and support to older Australians who are receiving aged care services across the Sydney, Hunter New England, Central West NSW, Illawarra and South Coast regions.

“Access to aged care advocacy support can make an enormous difference to the lives of older people receiving aged care in their own home in the community or aged care homes,” regional advocacy manager Margaret Crothers said.

Community Care Review understands the program is being federally funded however it’s unclear how much funding will be provided or how many extra advocates will come on board.

The federal budget provides $272.5 million over four years to support senior Australians to access information about aged care, navigate the aged care system and connect to services through the introduction of dedicated face-to-face services.

Importance of advocacy

A report released earlier this year found that older people benefitted from having face-to-face support to find their way around the aged care system.

The report, which looked at trails of navigator services across Australia over two years, said people who used them reported feeling more well informed and confident about accessing aged care services.

CEO Craig Gear says OPAN’s initiative recognises the importance of advocacy for older Australians accessing aged care services in their local community or residential care.

“These local advocates will help older people access advocacy support and find timely solutions to issues they may be experiencing in their own home or residential care,” Mr Gear said. 

“We look forward to delivering these new services to Sydney and Western Sydney as quickly as possible.”

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