Mouldy toothbrushes and poor oral health in aged care

The Sydney Morning Herald article [Julie Power, 9 June 2019, Mouldy toothbrushes: Poor oral health in aged care can have fatal risks] on oral health care in aged care draws attention to a very important issue. The standard of care for dental health under the Quality of Care Principles 2014 requires that care recipients oral and dental health is maintained.

Although no claim arises from a breach of the Aged Care Act 1997, nevertheless a failure in the quality of services can be the subject of a claim under the Australian Consumer Law.

In this respect there are three bases for a claim.

  • Firstly, services must be delivered with due care and skill.
  • Secondly, services must be fit for the purpose for which they were acquired or bored and in this case we are talking about health care to frail and vulnerable aged Australians.
  • Thirdly, the services which are the subject of the contract must be delivered within a reasonable time.

If dental hygiene leads to infection and decay and pain, this would seem to be an obvious area where services have failed badly.

Anyone who has a family member or for whom the person is a Guardian, should seriously consider filing a claim with the civil and administrative tribunal of the State or Territory.

It would be a good idea to get legal advice beforehand to be sure that the dental service is actionable Under the Australian Consumer Law.