Change location v

Understanding Institutional Abuse in Care Homes: Your Legal Options

Unfortunately, sometimes the very institutions that are in place to care for people and tend to their needs fail to do so. If you or a loved one has suffered from abuse within a care home, know that you have legal options and may be entitled to compensation.

There are currently over 400,000 Australians who entrust aged care homes to provide them with necessary support and assistance. While the vast majority of the work done by these institutions is commendable, cases of elder abuse do occur and are rising — with upwards of 1,000 cases occurring per month in Australia.

If you’re thinking about filing a compensation claim, our expert team of solicitors at GMP Law is here to support you. In this article, we discuss compensation claims for elder abuse, including eligibility criteria, the legal process and potential next steps for you.

For personalised legal advice based on your situation specifically, book a free, non-obligation consultation with one of our compensation lawyers.

Quick Links

Institutional abuse claims: An overview

Institutional abuse is an umbrella term. It’s used to describe various forms of harm, whether physical, psychological, sexual or other, and the legal consequences for each. Harm that occurs in a residential care home falls under this umbrella and encompasses both minor and major forms of abuse, including both intentional and unintentional cases of mistreatment.

That’s to say that each case is unique — some stem from egregious, intentional malpractice while others may arise from unintentional neglect or systemic issues within the nursing home. In any case, if you’ve suffered due to a care home’s negligence, intentional or otherwise, you may be entitled to compensation.

Care homes are legally obligated to provide competent care to those within their residential facilities — referred to as their ‘duty of care.’ Duty of care is more formally defined as the institution’s obligation to exercise a level of care toward an individual, as is reasonable in all circumstances, to avoid causing harm to that person.

If you decide to pursue a claim, establishing a breach in the residential care facilities’ duty of care will be the basis for your claim. Establishing a breach entails:

  1. Establishing the standard of care: This step involves proving the expected level of care in the care home. It requires demonstrating the norms and standards typical for similar care environments and outlining the expected conduct of professionals in those settings.
  2. Demonstrating non-compliance with the standard: Once the standard of care is established, the next step is to provide evidence showing that the care home failed to meet this standard, whether through specific actions or a failure to act (i.e., whether through misdiagnoses, or a failure to diagnose).
  3. Linking the breach to the harm incurred: The final step is to prove that the deviation from the standard of care directly resulted in physical, psychological or emotional harm to the nursing home resident.


A breach of duty of care can impact both individuals receiving care, and also their family members and loved ones. For instance, one of GMP Law’s clients was awarded a settlement of $160,500 following a care home’s failure to adequately monitor and treat his father’s severe infection, resulting in preventable complications and premature passing.

Unfortunately, diagnostic failures and delays are common forms of breaches, as are medication administration errors. Other examples of aged care negligence include:

  • Inadequate staffing levels: Having too few caregivers to ensure timely medication distribution or assistance with daily activities like eating, bathing and mobility — leading to prolonged periods without basic care.
  • Physical abuse: Specific incidents may include a staff member striking a resident, unnecessary physical restraint leading to injuries, or rough handling during transfers and mobility assistance.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse: As the most prevalent form of elder abuse, this could involve caregivers yelling at residents, using harsh or degrading language, isolating them as punishment or making threats.
  • Sexual abuse: Incidents may range from inappropriate touching during bathing or dressing to coerced sexual acts. Such cases often go unreported due to the vulnerability of the population.
  • Neglect of basic needs: Forgetting to provide meals, failing to regularly change clothing or bedding or leaving residents in soiled clothing or bedding for extended periods.
  • Financial abuse: This may involve staff or administrators misusing a resident’s credit cards, stealing cash or valuables from the elderly’s belongings or coercing residents into changing wills or financial documents.


If you’re questioning whether you’re entitled to compensation, consider speaking with one of our nursing home abuse lawyers. The consultation is free and non-obligatory, ensuring complete confidentiality. We conduct all our work through the lens of our triple c attitude: compassionate, competent and committed legal services, working to ensure you receive justice and the compensation you deserve.

Do you want to learn more about filing a compensation claim?

Call us for confidential, free advice.

What types of compensation may I be entitled to?

The compensation entitlements for nursing home abuse depend on the specifics of your case, adjusted according to the severity of the harm. During your free consultation, your compensation lawyer will examine your situation and inform you of what your entitlements are.

Compensation is available for two main categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to tangible financial losses, including:

  • Lost income (past and future earning potential).
  • Medical expenses (whether related to medications or the cost of rehabilitation services).
  • Costs associated with necessary modifications to the home or vehicles due to injury.

Non-economic damages are also commonly referred to as ‘pain and suffering,’ allowing abuse survivors to seek payment for the emotional distress they’ve experienced. Generally, such suffering is diagnosed by a board-certified psychiatrist or psychologist and must be directly tied to the institutional harm. This commonly includes depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Pain and suffering are calculated in relation to the most extreme case (MEC) — with 100% representing the worst possible injury/abuse outcome. While states differ slightly in their legislation, the table for calculating pain and suffering compensation in NSW is as follows.


Percentage of Most Extreme Case (MEC)Compensation amount
1-14%No damages to be awarded
15 – 20%$7,000 – $25,500
21 – 25%$29,000 – $47,000
26 – 30%$58,000 – $166,000
31 – 40%$187,500 – $289,000
41 – 50%$296,00 – $361,000
51 – 60%$368,000 – $433,000
61 – 70%$440,500 – $505,500
71 – 80%$512,500 – $ 577,500
81 – 90%$585,000 – $650,000
91 – 100%$657,000 – $722,000

Queensland uses the ‘ISV scale’ — or Injury Scale Value — to determine pain and suffering compensation outcomes. Similar to NSW’s MEC system, the ISV value is a number between 0 and 100 that represents the severity of the injury, where 100 signifies the most severe case imaginable. And, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania also each differ in how compensation is determined.

We’re here to help you navigate this. At GMP Law, our team of specialised personal injury lawyers can work with you to make sure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to. We can provide you with free legal advice during your initial compensation and, if you choose to pursue your claim, guide you through the entire process — ensuring your rights are upheld.

Book an appointment with our expert team of compensation solicitors.

Many cases of elder abuse go unaccounted for. If you, or your loved one, choose to file a compensation claim and seek justice, our team is here to step you through the process and those responsible are held accountable. Below, we’ll cover what you can expect throughout the claim’s process — although, to have your own questions answered, reach out to our team on 1800 004 878 or click here to send us an email.

Institutional abuse compensation claims are civil claims, meaning they typically don’t involve criminal charges but seek financial redress for damages suffered. Upwards of 80% of civil claims are settled privately through mediation negotiations. Mediation is the process of bringing together the parties involved in a dispute to discuss the issues at hand and negotiate a mutually agreeable resolution — with the help of a neutral third-party mediator.

There are a handful of reasons why most claims settle before reaching litigation; two key reasons are because of the financial and emotional benefits. Litigation is generally long and expensive in comparison to mediation: while private settlements may take days or weeks to settle, it’s not uncommon for the court system to take years to resolve. The reduced length and financial burden of mediation also translate into less stress and uncertainty for all parties involved. One way that we help alleviate emotional pressure for our clients is through our no-win, no-fee policy. This policy allows you access to our expert legal services with no upfront costs, and we only get paid if we win your case.

While most cases don’t require court intervention, there are cases where litigation is required, whether because of:

  • The care home’s unwillingness to engage in mediation.
  • The severity and nature of the abuse, warranting a judicial review.
  • The inability to agree on a mutually satisfactory settlement amount during mediation.
  • Disputes over the facts of the case that cannot be resolved without formal legal proceedings.


Your elder abuse lawyer is there to keep you informed throughout the full legal process and work on your behalf to ensure your rights are upheld. The first step? Speak with one of our solicitors in a free, non-obligation consultation. Prior to speaking with one of our team members, gather any evidence that you can that may substantiate your claim, such as medical records, staff logs, witness statements, photographs of injuries or conditions and any communication records that may pertain to the care received.

GMP Law: Receive the compensation you’re entitled to

Compassionate, committed and competent legal services — our promise to you. When you book a consultation, we’ll pair you with the solicitor most suitable for your case, offering experience and expertise.

Click here to book a free, non-obligation consultation, or call us on 1800 004 878.

case summaries

Successful Claims

About Us
Gerard Malouf & Partners have provided friendly, experienced legal advice to communities across Australia for over 35 years. Our Personal Injury Lawyers have taken on ten’s of thousands of cases and we are proud to have won billions of dollars for our clients.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.

Your location is currently: