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                Consumer Rights and Responsibility Policy



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Copyright SWAHS                                             Page 1 of 7
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Sydney West Area Health Service


Purpose
This policy is to provide guidelines for consumers, carers and the community about their rights and
responsibilities when accessing services provided by Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS).
It outlines the process of advising consumers about their rights and responsibilities. A summary of
the information can be found in the Rights and Responsibilities Brochure, and on the SWAHS
Internet site.

Intended Audience
All staff and volunteers of SWAHS, consumers of its services, carers, and local communities

Expected outcomes
Consumers of SWAHS services are advised of their rights and responsibilities when accessing
SWAHS services, and their carers and communities are also aware of these rights and
responsibilities. Staff and volunteers know and understand consumer rights and responsibilities
and work within this framework.

Definitions
Consumer
Consumer refers to people who either directly or indirectly make use of health services or could
use a health service. This involves people having a say about their experiences in using services
and about how they and others could maintain or improve their own health status or that of others.
It should be seen as a generic descriptor of people who cover a spectrum: those who use
services; are connected with people who use them; are involved with groups of consumers who
might have a shared disease or chronic health issue they are managing; potential consumers of
health services; and members of the community or other service providers/stakeholders who have
an interest in health service delivery.


Carers
Carers provide care or support for individuals who use health care services, and without their
assistance they would not manage as well. This could be due to needs arising from disability,
chronic health issue, frailty or mental illness.

Policy Statement

Sydney West Area Health Service through CAREFirst aims for every single patient to receive the
best possible care, every single time. To achieve this, consumers need to be aware of their rights
and responsibilities when engaging with SWAHS services. SWAHS is committed to working in
partnership with consumers to ensure that the rights and responsibilities outlined in this document
are upheld to support the highest quality care.


1. Rights and Responsibilities for consumers accessing SWAHS services
    The following outlines the rights and responsibilities for consumers and carers accessing
    services provided by SWAHS. A summary of these rights and responsibilities is in the Rights
    and Responsibilities brochure.
Consumer Rights



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•   Standards of Care – Quality and Safety
    Consumers have the right to:
        •   Be treated with dignity, respect and courtesy
        •   Receive health services that are free from discrimination
        •   Receive safe services within a secure environment
        •   Receive quality health services from qualified staff
        •   Private and confidential care within legal and NSW Health Privacy Guidelines
        •   Request a free health care interpreter (including AUSLAN interpreters).
•   Access to Services
    Consumers have the right to:
        •   Receive timely and free emergency treatment
        •   Choose to be treated as a public or private patient
        •   Information on where health services and treatment is available if they are not available
            locally
        •   Travel allowances if consumers need to travel more than 100 kilometres to receive
            treatment and meet the criteria under the Transport for Health Program (previously the
            Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS)). To be
            eligible for Transport for Health subsidies for long distance travel (formerly provided
            under IPTAAS) consumers must:

                1. Be a permanent resident of New South Wales
                2. Usually live more than 100km one way from the nearest treating specialist
                3. Be referred by a medical practitioner to the nearest treating specialist for
                   specialist treatment
                4. Claim the maximum available benefits from private health fund first
                5. Not be eligible for any assistance under any other government assistance
                   scheme.



•   Information about health care
    Consumers have the right to:
        •   Clear information about their condition, available health services, treatment options,
            risks and waiting times
        •   Know the name, profession and position of staff providing the treatment and care
        •   Receive instructions to properly care for yourself after discharge.


•   Making decisions about health care
    Consumers have the right to:
        •   Be informed of any costs of services and choose to be treated as a public or private
            patient
        •   Ask for a second opinion



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        •   Choose whether or not to have treatment and withdraw consent to treatment at any
            time
        •   Refuse care from a particular health care professional or service (bearing in mind there
            may be no other appropriate alternative)
        •   Accept or refuse services provided by students or involving research
        •   Discharge themselves from a health facility at any time
        •   Nominate a carer and allow them to receive information about their health care needs
            and treatments.


•   Access to information
    Consumers have the right to:
        •   Ask to see what is in their health record and have a health worker help them
            understand it
        •   Know how their personal information will be used, disclosed and stored
        •   Know that their personal and health information will be kept private and confidential


Further information is available in the SWAHS Privacy Information for Patients and Clients leaflet


•   Providing feedback
    Consumers have the right to:
        •   Provide feedback, including making complaints, without impact on current or future
            health services accessed.


Consumer Responsibilities
When using SWAHS services, consumers have a responsibility to:
•   Treat all the people they meet in the health service with respect, courtesy and without
    discrimination on the basis of age, gender, race, religion, culture, disability or sexual preference
•   Conduct themselves in a manner which will not interfere with the wellbeing, safety or rights of
    staff or other people using the service
•   Let the health service know if they are unhappy about the way they are being treated
•   Give information and answer questions about their health care honestly
•   Tell their health care worker if they do not understand the purpose of all tests, treatments and
    possible alternatives
•   Cooperate with the treatment provided
•   Tell their health care worker if their religious or cultural beliefs make it difficult for them to agree
    with the recommended treatment
•   Tell their doctor or health care worker if they are receiving treatment from another health
    professional
•   Keep appointments or let staff know if they need to cancel or change an appointment


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•   Take an active part in planning and making decisions about their health care
•   Ensure that when they receive treatment at home that their home is free from tobacco smoke,
    violence, harassment and that all animals are restrained.


2. Rights and Responsibilities in Mental Health and Community Health Settings
Consumers and carers receiving mental health or community health services have some additional
rights and responsibilities. These consumers and carers should be provided with the additional
information relating to their rights and responsibilities.


3. Consent
In most circumstances, patients must consent to medical treatment before it is provided. Medical
treatments or interventions may occur without consent if:
    •   It is an emergency
    •   The patient is unconscious
    •   The patient requires treatment under the Mental Health Act (2007) or Infectious Diseases
        (Public Health Act 1991).
In some instances, consent will be given by a guardian appointed under the Guardian Act 1987
and not by the patient. Patients may also nominate a carer to consent to treatments for them.
For children under 14 years, consent must be given by a parent or guardian. Children between 14
and 16 years may consent on their own behalf, but are strongly encouraged to discuss treatments
with their parents or guardians. Children over 16 do not require parental consent for medical
treatment.


4. Providing Feedback
Consumer and carer feedback is valuable in improving health services. Consumers and carers
should be given information about and opportunities to provide feedback about the services they
receive. They should be assured that providing feedback, including complaints, will not impact on
their current or future access to high quality health services.


Feedback or complaints should be directed to the manager of the service where care is being
received. That might include the Nurse Unit Manager, Hospital Manager, or Community Health
Centre Manager. Consumers and carers can also address their complaints or feedback to a
Patient Representative or Client Liaison Officer, or they can choose to write to the Chief Executive
of SWAHS.


Consumers and carers also have the right to contact the Health Care Complaints Commission
(HCCC) about their concerns, and information about how to contact the HCCC is included in the
Rights and Responsibilities Brochure.
Complaints will be managed in accordance with the following SWAHS policies:
•   POLY10379 – Open Disclosure Policy


5. Privacy and confidentiality

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Consumers have a right to have information about their health status kept private and confidential.
Staff need to ensure that the information is kept confidential. Protection of consumers’ personal
and health information is covered by the Health Information and Privacy Act (2002).
Consumers also have a right to nominate a carer and allow them to receive information about their
health care needs and treatments for ongoing care. The Mental Health Act (2007) enables
identification of a primary carer and the sharing of information.
Further information is available in the SWAHS Privacy Information for Patients and Clients leaflet.



Procedure
1. Providing information to consumers about their rights and responsibilities
    All consumers and/or their carers accessing services provided by SWAHS must be made
    aware of their rights and responsibilities. This can be achieved by providing the consumer and
    their carer with the SWAHS Rights and Responsibilities brochure at the following times:
        •   In pre-admission paperwork or distributed at pre-admission clinic
        •   On admission
        •   During the patient’s admission by having them accessible in ward areas
        •   At the first home visit for community services
        •   During outpatient visits by making them accessible in outpatient areas
        •   Displayed as a poster in hospitals and community health centres.


    It is important that consumers and carers are provided with the brochure as close to the first
    contact with the service as is appropriate. This may depend on the consumer’s health status
    (they may be too unwell initially to receive this information). For some consumers and carers,
    merely providing the brochure will be inadequate to inform them of their rights and
    responsibilities. In these cases, the staff member should discuss the patient and carer rights
    and responsibilities, emphasising the issues most relevant to that episode of care. Care should
    also be taken to provide the information in a culturally appropriate way.
    Privacy information can be provided to consumers and carers at the same point of contact by
    issuing and discussing the SWAHS Privacy Information for Patients and Clients leaflet.
    The Rights and Responsibilities brochure and the Privacy Information for Patients and Clients
    leaflet will also be available on the SWAHS internet site, and consumers can be directed to that
    page.


2. Evaluating compliance with the policy
It is important to document the fact that consumers and carers have been provided with information
about their rights and responsibilities. This may be undertaken within existing processes, including
handover notes, or electronically via CHIME or other patient medical record systems.




Risk Rating
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Implementation Plan
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Education Notes
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References and Related Policies
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Version History
Date of Issue          Document Version    Change Details   Author




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