Consumer reporting for home and community-based aged care services is set to come into force in June.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has advised providers that Consumer Experience Reports (CER) will be available for home and community care consumers to complete at the conclusion of a two-phase pilot.
The use of CERs in home care follows their widespread use in the residential sector where 1,780 reports have been completed since consumer reporting was introduced in 2017 as part of the audit process.
In the residential sphere, CERs are used to assess how residents and their families experience quality of care using a set of standardised questions covering areas such as safety, staff and food.
The commission is working with the Australian Institute of Primary Care and Ageing at La Trobe University to develop CER questions specifically tailored for home and community-based care recipients.
Highlighting areas of concern
Residential experience indicates CERs are well accepted in the sector and offer useful information to both providers and regulators by indicating potential areas of concern that can be followed up with further questions or scrutiny of records, lead researcher Professor Wells told Community Care Review.
“They really act as an initial screening and allow consumers and residents to have an actual say in the whole audit process, rather than being left out of it,” she said.
Professor Wells said the number of responses in phase one of the piloting, involving several providers across three states, was disappointing but the results were being used to shape phase two testing scheduled to start this month.
“Phase Two will test collection methodology, and we will be inviting consumers to participate by paper, telephone or online survey,” she said.
Nothing to fear
Home care providers have nothing to fear, Professor Wells says.
“But it might give them an indication where clients are not very happy and provide some evidence for them that they could act upon.
“It’s important to include consumers in having a say in what the services they’re getting are like and to do this in a consistent and systematic way.
“It’s not a ‘Trip Advisor’ style ranking system – it’s meant to be scientific and reliable, and as valid a way as possible of evaluating the consumer experience as service recipients.”