US rolls back protections for aged care residents

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In a new rule passed by the government last week residents in US aged care facilities (skilled nursing homes) will find they have greatly reduced access to courts in the event of abuse or mistreatment in a home, with arbitration as the only option.

Bethany Brown, a researcher into the rights of older people at Human Rights Watch, says without access to the courts, the potential for harm for hundreds of thousands of older people across the US is clear.

International human rights law protects an individual’s right to access courts for a remedy.  This about turn effectively signs away the residents’ right to sue; it also forecloses the efficiency of the courts to improve the system for everyone.

The US decision is in stark contrast to former Australian journalist, Lisa Backhouse’s (pictured above) plea at the Royal Commission hearing in Darwin.

We need a strong policeman on the beat, a regulator must be given punitive powers in order to be able to fine and penalise nursing homes that fail in their duty of care.”

 “When we look back in years to come, much like the orphanages of yesteryear, this will be our country’s greatest shame.”

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