Rodney Lewis is a pioneer of elder law with more than fifty years’ experience in the area of wills, guardianship, power of attorney, aged care and all aspects of older people and their human rights. He is the author of Elder Law in Australia and pioneered the first course on elder law the University of Western Sydney.
Rodney was drawn to the area of elder care in the 1990s through his wife’s experiences working as a registered nurse in aged care. He realised there was big human rights issue under his nose, but it was swept under the carpet.
He says many clients are worried and confused about how to pay for aged care. He explains that aged care has been financed through the Commonwealth Government since 1997. Individuals pay a refundable lump sum to secure a bed, often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This is the Refundable Accommodation Deposit. It’s possible to pay the part of the amount as a Daily Accommodation Payment. People on the aged pension don’t pay the lump sum but contribute 85% of their pension to the aged care provider. He advises that if you have significant assets, see a financial adviser.
Rodney Lewis points out there is no law that specifically covers nursing home care, a gap he is troubled by. He explains that in the past, residents received a Charter of Rights, but this was not legally enforceable.
He was highly critical of the previous government’s amendments to the Aged Care Act drawn up post the horrors revealed by the Aged Care Royal Commission. A contentious issue is whether providers can be prosecuted for the kinds of maltreatment revealed by the Royal Commission.
Under the proposed amendments they had immunity from prosecution. However, these amendments were deferred for more changes by the new government and Rodney Lewis hopes they will be re-introduced with greater legal teeth.