Concerns about core clinical standards in residential aged care facilities were the most common complaints to the new Aged Care Complaints Commissioner in the first half of 2016, data released this week shows.
Commissioner Rae Lamb received 267 complaints about clinical care, a further 200 about the administration of medications and 178 about continence management.
Another 163 complaints related to the choice and dignity of the person receiving care.
As Australian Ageing Agenda has reported, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner took over from the department’s former complaints scheme from 1 January, following long-held concerns about the independence of the scheme (read that story here).
The commissioner’s first annual report released on Wednesday showed there was a total of 2,153 complaints about aged care – including residential, community care and flexible care – which was an increase of 11 per cent on the same period last year.
Ms Lamb said the transition to an independent commissioner and greater public awareness of her office may explain the rise in the number of complaints received.
Further, the 1,746 complaints related to residential aged care reflect a small proportion of the 192,000 older people living in aged care facilities.
As Community Care Review reported yesterday, concerns over fees topped the list of home care complaints to the commissioner, with 94 complaints relating to fees and a further 55 concerning other financial matters (read that story here).
Family members or representatives accounted for nearly 60 per cent of all complaints, followed by 16 per cent from care recipients and 25 per cent from anonymous complainants or referrals from other agencies.
Ms Lamb said that 91 per cent of complaints were finalised within 90 days and early resolution was achieved in 87 per cent of cases.
Of the 13 per cent of cases resolved using formal resolution, 142 required an investigation, 111 involved service provider resolution and 38 required conciliation.
The commissioner made 231 referrals to external organisations arising from the investigation of complaints, including to the Department of Health, Aged Care Quality Agency and aged care advocacy organisations.
“Issues and concerns most commonly referred to the Quality Agency included the number and qualifications and training of personnel, quality of clinical care, quality of food, infection control, administration of medication and continence management,” she said.
Referrals to the department were those outside the commissioner’s scope, and included concerns about funding claiming practices.
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