The conversations of life

Aged care: why a rise in aged care complaints is good news


The first annual report from the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner has revealed 4,713 complaints were received last financial year – a 20 per cent increase.

It doesn’t sound great, but Commissioner Rae Lamb says she doesn’t think the rise shows “deteriorating standards of care” – rather that more people are willing to make their voices heard.

There are now over one million people receiving aged care across Australia – mostly in their homes – and complaints are a part of any industry.

The report highlights that there are cases where managers and providers have not communicated well with residents and their families.

But it’s clear that what a service does about complaints is more important than the fact they get them.

Raising concerns leads to improved care

In one of the report’s case studies a resident’s son had raised questions about her repositioning in bed, continence care and diet.

She found it hard to communicate with staff because of poor hearing and impaired speech.

The provider acknowledged more needed to be done and steps were taken immediately to update her care preferences, with the resident, her son and the operator all happy with the outcome.

92 per cent of complaints were also resolved within one month – a jump of 25 per cent on the previous year – so residents and families can also be reassured they are being dealt with quickly.

As we covered here, you can also contact an advocate at one of the Federal government-funded OPAN Advocacy organisations in your state for assistance.

Most importantly don’t be afraid to have your say about your loved one’s care – get to know staff, ask questions and acknowledge them when they are doing good work.

This will contribute more to making our aged care system better than anything else.

A practising aged care physiotherapist for the past 13 years, Jill has worked in more than 50 metropolitan and regional aged care homes. She has also toured care facilities across the US and Africa. She is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff that serve them.

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