You may have come across the term duty of care in aged care and probably never paid too much attention to it. But really, what is duty of care in aged care?

In a nutshell, anyone working in the aged or disability sector has both a legal and moral responsibility to keep the people they support, their clients, participants or residents, safe from any kind of harm as they receive care. This responsibility is known as ‘duty of care’.

What Is Duty of Care in Aged Care?

The duty of care meaning in aged care, in its most basic and legal sense, refers to the legal obligation of an individual or organisation to act in the best interests of residents by not causing harm or injury to them.

This means providing the necessary care and support to help older citizens maintain their health and well-being.

To abide by the duty of care obligation, caregivers need to minimize any risks to an older person’s health and safety. Caregivers need to:

  • Provide personal care and assistance with activities of daily living
  • Monitor an older person’s health and wellbeing
  • Respond to any changes in an older person’s condition
  • Create a safe and supportive environment
  • Provide information and support to families and carers

Examples of Aged Care Duty of Care

Examples of duty of care for a person receiving aged care services include but are not limited to:

  • Safe and high-quality care services
  • Dignified and courteous treatment
  • Valuing and supporting a client’s culture, diversity and identity
  • Living a life free of abuse and neglect
  • Enhanced independence
  • Access to all information about yourself, including information about your rights, care, and services, in a way that makes sense to you
  • Control over one’s personal and social life, their wealth, assets, and other decisions involving personal risk
  • Having control of your personal life, finances
  • Personal privacy and information are safeguarded
  • Your voice is heard when you voice your grievances
  • Exercising your rights without having a negative impact on how you are treated

Who Enforces Duty of Care?

There are specific steps that aged care providers must take to enforce aged care duty of care. They’re also obligated to ensure that staff are adequately trained and qualified to provide care.

Various ways in which duty of care in aged care is enforced:

  • The Department of Health and Aged Care (DoHA): The DoHA has set standards that aged care providers must meet to be registered and accredited. DoHA performs regular checks to ensure aged care providers are compliant).
  • The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC): The ACQSC inspects aged care homes and ensures they meet quality and safety standards. In the case where an aged care home doesn’t meet these standards, the ACQSC can suspend or cancel their registration.

As a resident of an aged care home, you and your family have a right to complain if they believe a service provider isn’t following the duty of care in aged care. You can make complaints to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, who will investigate the complaint and take appropriate action.

What Are the Duties of an Aged Care Worker?

The Australian government recognises an aged care worker as anyone who works in the aged care industry. Aged care workers have a duty of care to their clients, regardless of their specific role. Therefore, it’s their duty to provide safe and effective care and take all reasonable steps to protect you (as their client) from harm.

Aged care workers must also comply with all relevant duties of care in aged care legislation, regulations and policies.

Aged care workers typically have a range of duties:

  • Providing personal care
  • Assisting with meals and managing medication.
  • Domestic tasks such as cleaning and laundry
  • Providing transport to appointments and personal care assistant duties in aged care

Aged care workers can work in a variety of settings such as aged care homes, community centres and clients’ homes.

In addition to adhering to the requirements of their jobs, aged care workers should be compassionate and empathetic to make aged care residents feel comfortable being around them.

What is the Dignity of Risk?

Duty of care goes hand in hand with allowing aged care residents ‘the dignity of risk’. This means that the residents have the right to make their own decisions, even if they are at risk of failing. The aged need independence over their everyday choices, to enhance a person’s self-esteem and dignity.

However, you must balance duty of care with Dignity of Risk. For example, you have a client suffering from dementia. It makes better sense to have someone to accompany the client so they have a more enjoyable experience without worrying about getting lost.


Hopefully, you’re fully aware of the concept of Duty of Care in aged care and understand your rights as an aged care service receiver!

You might also like:

Hi, I hope you found this article useful.

If you wish to discuss your situation and what strategies may be of benefit please contact us here 

Thanks - Shane