Seniors benefit from a 'national voice' with new network
CREATING a national voice to advocate for older men and women is the key aim of the newly set up Older Persons Advocacy Network.
After only a few weeks in his new job, CEO Lewis Kaplan has a clear plan of action to serve the interests of Australian seniors.
"OPAN isn't going to become a huge organisation - it will work as much as possible through its state and territory member organisations,” he said.
"My vision is that we will become strongly engaged with each member organisation and with the key national aged care stakeholders.”
OPAN will act as a national co-ordinating peak body for the nine member organisations in states and territories who deliver aged care advocacy.
"They will continue to maintain their own identities,” Lewis said.
"It'll be challenging to achieve all we've set out to do but the member organisations are all signed up for this.
"It's brand new and it's exciting. It also creates efficiencies.
"We are going to be creating a way to communicate via digital means, like television and video, in all aged care facilities.”
Lewis joins OPAN with extensive experience, having been CEO of several major organisations, including Diabetes Australia, Red Cross NSW and Alzheimer's Australia NSW as well as executive director of Council on the Ageing NSW.
He says there are three key aspects to the OPAN service - information, education and individual aged care advocacy for anyone in an aged care facility or receiving a Commonwealth home support service, or prospective aged care consumer who is struggling to get what they need or who thinks "something isn't right”.
"We provide a free confidential service to the consumer or carer, to work through what their issue is, and how they might approach the facility or service to get it fixed, as long as it's a reasonable request,” he said.
"In addition to age care advocacy roles, we're starting to have a role in elder abuse.”
OPAN will be represented at the next national elder abuse conference in Sydney in February.
OPAN chairman Craig Gear said the new network had an exciting program of work, supporting its state and territory service delivery organisations to ensure the rights of older people were linked to the recent aged care reforms.
Each state operates an information and advice line 9.30am-4.30pm weekdays at free call 1800700600. Your call will be answered in each state by the OPAN organisation in your state/territory.