Reparations for Harms Experienced in Residential Aged Care
Health and human rights
This paper explores the possibility of reparations for harms suffered by people in residential aged care, focusing on experiences of people with dementia. We first explain how systemic and structural harms occur within residential aged care and outline how they constitute human rights violations. Using Australia as a case study, we then consider the limitations of court-based approaches to pursuit of redress and the current absence of redress from policy responses. We then propose an expansive and multifaceted notion of redress as reparations, where governments, residential aged care operators, medical and legal professionals, and civil society engage in ongoing recognition of harms and specific actions to prevent recurrence. By drawing on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Van Boven Principles, we consider the application to aged care of the framework of access to justice and reparations for human rights violations. This framework encompasses inclusive and accessible processes to access reparations for individuals in such forms as compensation and rehabilitation, and collective reparations, including apologies and public education. In order to ensure that reparations support the prevention of further harm in aged care, the design of redress could form part of broader government strategies directed toward increasing funding and access to community-based support, care, and accommodation, and enhancing the human rights of people with dementia.
Open Access Status
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