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Government signals consumer reviews for My Aged Care


The Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley has reaffirmed the government’s intention for the My Aged Care gateway to progressively resemble TripAdvisor, the popular travel review website that now hosts more than 250 million user reviews.

Sussan Ley HR

Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley

Ms Ley told the Getting Ready for Increased Consumer Control conference on Wednesday that older people and their families needed better access to information when making decisions about their aged care.

“We all know the value of that service when planning a holiday. Why shouldn’t we create that style of information to help older people make even more important life decisions?”

Ms Ley’s comments advance those of her predecessor Senator Mitch Fifield, who said My Aged Care should develop “TripAdvisor-style capacities” to rate services according to what matters most to consumers.

Ms Ley said accreditation, while important and necessary, was only part of the picture, and quality was really defined by consumers’ experience and expectations.

“I want Australia’s aged care system to have an approach to quality which understands and anticipates what is important to the individual,” she told the Sydney audience via video-link.

Trip Advisor is underpinned by user reviews

Trip Advisor is underpinned by user reviews

“A quality facility or service should be one that exceeds the consumer’s expectations; not one that simply satisfies a pre-determined baseline.”

Choice in residential

Building on the consumer-driven reforms in home care, Ms Ley said she was interested in finding ways of giving consumers more choice and control in residential care too.

“…the changing geographic distribution of older people; and the challenge of planning for it, means it is time to rethink the residential care planning and delivery model,” she said.

Ms Ley signalled her support for further deregulation in residential care and greater market competition.

Aged care has “come home” to health

The new minister outlined her rationale for bringing aged care back under the health portfolio, where she said older Australians and their carers could be better supported.

“We will do this by better integrating aged care with local clinicians, primary health networks and hospitals.”

On the policy conundrum of rural and remote aged care, Ms Ley said she awaited the findings of ACFA’s current review into the financing of rural and remote aged care, which will inform the government’s approach.

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11 Responses to Government signals consumer reviews for My Aged Care

  1. Jane Floyd November 26, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    I’m looking forward to consumer reviews for the My Aged Care gateway!

    The NRMA has launched a similar rating scheme. In partnership with COTA and Gallup, the Owl Ratings scheme rates the customer engagement provided by service providers.

    Currently operating only in retirement villages, early next year it will launch in home care services.

    You can trust an NRMA Owl Rating – because it is independent and scientifically validated.

    Owls are a rating by consumers for consumers.

    Service providers offering quality services can use Owl Rating to differentiate themselves and stand out from an increasingly crowded seniors marketplace.

  2. Sandra Robinson November 26, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    This should have been in place years ago – something as important as providing care and accommodation for the elderly frail – there should be more public scrutiny and consumer comment – that will help increase the quality of services being provided.

  3. Country Carer November 26, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    How ridiculous! Do people really think all trip advisor reviews are genuine and honest? All it will take is one person with a malicious bent to destroy a facility’s good work. And how many elderly prospective residents do you know who use the internet for such research? Word of mouth, social workers and community services are still the most valuable tools in supporting our elderly. Get real, Minister!!!

  4. Daryl Sahli November 26, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    Minister Ley’s comments are gratifying in the sense that she is suggesting “quality” as a competitive advantage in residential aged care. Carol Bennett from Alzheimers Australia, in a recent ABC report says, “We still don’t have a single measure of quality in aged care services, and this is critical …” I submit that a single measure of quality is the opposite of what is needed. I liken residential aged care to the hotel industry. We have 1-Star Hotels and we have 5-Star Hotels. The owners of 1-Star hotels have pitched their services at those who want a basic roof over their head. 5-Star hotels add an enormous variety of services to help them compete with other 5-Star hotels. The point is that the star rating system sets a benchmark for quality at each level – allowing each hotel to be the best they can be within their target market. How hard can be to set a star rating system for aged care facilities? Why do we need the government to regulate leading to overall higher costs that won’t achieve the goal any way. Why not let the market take of it?

  5. Nigel Matthews November 26, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

    Great idea, although I believe there are already excellent sites that offer this, like agedcarereportcard.com.au. It will be interesting to see how the Australian aged care sector responds. A similar initiative, Agedadvisor.nz has already been the first to launch in New Zealand by an independent company to help others share their experiences, highlight those facilities that are doing a great job and help set benchmarks for others to aim for. It has really polarised the sector. We heard of many facilities that welcomed it while a number of owners and managers fought to get either their facility name deleted from it or tried to have the site taken to the commerce commission. You do start to wonder why they would be worried.

  6. Dave November 26, 2015 at 7:07 pm #

    You’re right, C.C. It’ll be open slather for every disaffected individual.

    How do they propose to verify the commentary? Where’s the value in a random selection of unqualified,subjective opinions posted by anyone that bothers to log on?

    I’m sure the minister means well, but you dont become an expert by simply being assigned a portfolio in the latest cabinet shuffle. This sounds like just another thought bubble with no substance.

    There’s probably a place for validated consumer commentary, but a transparent and standardised set of real-world indicators (pressure injuries, infection rates, staff numbers, etc) will better serve the community.

    But dont hold your breath. It’s taken nearly four years for the NACQIP to come up with 3 indicators (thankfully, they had the assistance of a large and expensive accounting firm to steer them towards this monumental achievement).

    Anonymous and unregulated reviews belong on your facebook page…’cause we believe eveything you tell us!

  7. Janine November 27, 2015 at 4:24 am #

    Accreditation is a joke. Facilities are given notice that this is going to take place before hand guiding them time to get all their records and bookworm up to date. To reorganise the facility and staff to make sure every think looks great for accreditation. In reality in country areas, without access to agency staff, they are always operating understaffed, sometimes 4 or 5 carers short. Staff do more than they should taking on extra shifts to help out wearing themselves down. The work is hard and no time available to do that little bit extra for the residents. The pay is low therfore good staff hard to get and keep. A lot of foreigners are employed that have English as a 2nd language, while they may be good willing workers it is hard for the residents to communicate with them causing frustration for residents and mistakes to happen. Wages need to be raised, staff ratio to client needs to be set at a more comfortable level. These are or elderly, people who have paid taxes all their life, loved through the war and made this country what it is, they deserve to be looked after as we would like to be. For some reason people that care for our elderly and our children are amongst the lowest paid in our country.

  8. Peter Watson November 27, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    This could really bring alive the concept of Consumer Directed Care (CDC). What a great idea! as long as it is done property (as with anything).

    I’d love to see a star rating on AMENITY and a star rating on CARE. It will expose those Amenity 5 star Care 2 star facilities. I know I’d rather have grandma in a Amenity 3 star – Care 5 star facility. More importantly, it will help encourage our industry to invest more in the training of carers rather than seeing it as an expense – it would now be a major driver of new residents.

    Peter Watson

  9. Kylie Wise November 28, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

    A star rating using what criteria?

    As Dave has pointed out (above), we still dont have a decent set of national standards in place. Unitl we get this right, any rating system will just be a collection of emotional and unqualified opinions. I dont see how this would translate into anything of value, let alone investment in staff development.

    We should be careful about applauding every little treat that gets thrown our way; it only encourages ill conceived policy. The minister’s suggestion is just a highly visible bandaid that will do nothing to address the systemic problems of aged care.

  10. Peter Watson November 30, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    5 Star Rating Criteria!

    Obviously things like Accreditation provide little by means of accurate and relevant assessment of aged care performance but there are measures that are quantifiable such as:
    1/ Does the care plan accurately reflect the assessed need of that resident?
    2/ Does the resident actually receive the care detailed in the care plan?
    3/ Is resident care delivered consistently – including the weekends
    4/ Confidential resident (and resident family) questionnaires can provide a true reflection of the reality of care – with consideration given to distortion from resident families who are struggling with their own guilt and projecting it onto the facility
    5/ Snap audits of ACTUAL care by a team qualified to recognise and reward excellent care
    6/ Let’s test personal carers and nurses on their actual skills rather than their paperwork and certificates before letting them lose on our residents

    The Care Star Rating could be a weighted mix of any and all of the above plus more.

    Let’s work to help enhance the “TripAdvisor” rating system rather than dismiss it as inaccurate. I would be more than happy to put the weight of my company’s expertise to this project for free!

    The day we have a true measure of a facility’s care, the closer we’ll be to being world leaders in providing the care, dignity and quality of life to our deserving elders.

  11. Lynda Saltarelli December 1, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    We agree that there are many problems in the way that the plethora of aged care review sites are operating and that they lend themselves to manipulation. We note that many of the large corporate providers are receiving adverse reviews not only on these websites, but also on job feedback sites. We also note that nine of the largest have recently formed The Aged Care Guild to protect their interests. We are concerned that the minister’s announcement may be a response to lobbying by these large industry groups and is intended to keep it all in the family.

    While consumer feedback is critically important, particularly when assessing quality of life, it is not a reliable measure of the actual care provided and is not a substitute for accurate data. The MyAgedCare website is unsuitable and ill-conceived for it’s purpose and of little use to seniors and their families. There are much better ways of addressing these and other problems we have in aged care.

    Aged Care Crisis has opened a public discussion asking those in the community with knowledge and experience to come up with ideas for addressing the problems in aged care. The first proposal opening that debate proposes a structure that would be far better suited for overseeing community feedback and would also be far more effective in addressing many of the objectives this website fails to achieve. It would integrate feedback with a number of other badly needed changes in core activities serving elderly Australians needing care and their families. The specific issue of trip adviser and other web feedback systems is addressed in a collapsible panel/section [Initiative 5] in Part 5 of that proposal on the ACC website.

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