Western-Australian aged care provider Braemar Presbyterian Care has expanded its third-party whistle-blower service for staff to allow residents and family members to also anonymously raise concerns.
The independent reporting service was initiated for staff about seven months and has been relaunched this year as Braemar Cares – Your Call.
The initiative aims to ensure that everyone associated with the organisation can have their voice heard about any concern.
Braemar CEO Wayne Belcher said it was important that providers “close the loop” on these things because sometimes people felt uncertain about directly raising an issue or reporting something they have seen.
“Closing the loop starts to build confidence in the relationship between provider and residents, family, staff, contractors and others,” Mr Belcher told Australian Ageing Agenda.
He said public complaints mechanisms through the Older Persons Advocacy Network or the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, for example, were important but that there was value in aged care organisations offering their own avenues.
“If we are going to have openness and transparency, then we need to build that in ourselves and not rely on the publicly offered ones.”
Reports can be lodged via phone or online 24 hours a day and the service is available to all Braemar staff and Braemar residents, their family members and friends.
All reports are forwarded directly to the CEO for action.
“If I don’t answer that within seven days, it goes to the chairman of the board. It ensures the integrity of the organisation,” Mr Belcher said.
The launch of the original and refreshed service has been complemented by an awareness and education campaign that includes posters in the facilities and a video explaining to residents why the organisation is using a third-party service.
Mr Belcher said there have been no reports made by staff to whistle-blowing service since it launched, but there has been an increase in the number of residents and families writing to him.
“There have been a dozen to 15 families I have had reasonably frequent contact with to resolve issues or build relationships with. So it’s working.”
The initiative has been welcomed by Ian Yates, CEO of consumer peak COTA Australia.
“I commend them and wish more providers would do the same,” Mr Yates told AAA.
It is excellent because it is part of the organisation’s internal processes and puts the issue in their control.
“If providers leave it to the complaints commission then the commission gets filled up with smaller stuff that should be dealt with by providers in a safe environment.”
If consumers know they can safely raise concerns it is more likely they will speak up, Mr Yates said.
“All initiatives about being open, transparent and engaged are part of the future of high-quality aged care.”
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