What is Duty of Care in Aged Care?


Duty of care – what does it imply? Is it different from standard of care? Here we explore what defines it and what comes under its purview so that you can be assured of the best care possible.

Duty of Care with Respect to Aged Care Homes

Duty of care, in its most basic and legal sense, refers to the obligation not to cause harm or injury to another person that could be reasonably anticipated. This needs capable staff, secure premises, and high-quality clinical treatment within Aged Care homes or similar elderly care settings. However, caring has a much broader meaning than the traditional duty of care.
It’s necessary to assess standard of care once the fundamentals of duty of care have been established. To give an example, care entails more than just putting food on a plate at every meal; it also entails ensuring that the meal is nutritionally balanced, flavourful, prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients, and tailored to each resident’s dietary needs, as well as any assistance they may require while eating.

Responsibilities and Duties Involved in Aged Care

Duty of care is a concept that isn’t always easy to grasp. What is its scope? According to the Australian Department of Health, the phrase has a definition laid out:
The principle of duty of care is that you have an obligation to avoid acts or omissions, which could be reasonably foreseen to injure or harm other people. This means that you must anticipate risks for your clients and take care to prevent them [from] coming to harm. Remember that harm encompasses both physical and emotional harm.
From this definition, we can deduce that a duty of care is an employer’s, an Aged Care home’s or a care institution’s responsibility to maintain a safe environment in which workers or residents are not exposed to reasonably expected damage. This is crucial in the environment of a regular place of work, however, it can also be implemented in a hospital, a healthcare system, or care facility, such as an Aged Care home.

Examples in Duty of Care

Residents in Aged Care are empowered with rights that include but are not limited to:

  1. Care and services that are safe and of great quality
  2. Dignified and courteous treatment
  3. Your culture, diversity and identity are valued as well as supported
  4. Living a life free of abuse and neglect
  5. Your independence
  6. Access to all information about yourself, including information about your rights, care, and services, in a way that makes sense to you
  7. Control over one’s personal and social life, as well as their wealth, assets, and other decisions involving personal risk
  8. Have control of your personal life, finances, and assets and be able to make decisions about them
  9. Personal privacy and information are safeguarded
  10. In the case of grievances, make your voice heard
  11. Exercising your rights without having a negative impact on how you are treated
  12. To be heard and understood

You can read details on all the rights here.

Duty of Care and Dignity of Risk

The legal right of everyone, including but not limited to the differently abled, to make choices and take risks so as to learn, grow, and make their quality of life better is known as dignity of risk.
While duty of care and dignity of risk go hand in hand, there’s a fine thread between them that should be balanced. Of course, we at our Aged Care homes want our residents to be as autonomous and independent as realistically possible as part of our duty of care, but there are times when the clients would need help with specific activities or tasks for which our staff assist them, maintaining dignity of risk.
For example, if a client with dementia wants to go shopping, it’s perfectly fine and encouraged, however, in this case they are accompanied by a staff member to help them in case they get lost or disoriented. This not only gives them independence of doing what they like, but at the same time it also preserves their dignity.

Breaches and Complaints in Duty of Care

Breaches of duty of care in Aged Care shouldn’t be taken lightly or tolerated by Aged Care homes and providers, and their residents alike. Breaches can belong to any of the rights mentioned above. Though breaches and mishaps rarely occur in quality Aged Care homes, if they do, you can register your complaint via My Aged Care website.

Parting Words

We at Homestyle Aged Care homes hope that you got the information you needed on duty of care in Aged Care. Some related information that may be of benefit for you to read is under our “Duty of Care” and “Aged Care Assistance” categories. If you need more information or would like to know more about the Aged Care homes we have or the services we provide, feel free to reach out to us at 1300 104 663, or email us at Check out a virtual tour of our newest home, the Sunset Views Manor opened in March 2022! You can check this link to know more.


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