Complaints, non-compliance up, quality report shows

The latest aged care sector performance report shows the number of complaints and services failing to comply with standards has risen, but reportable incidents have fallen.

The number of aged care complaints and services failing to comply with standards have risen, but reportable incidents have fallen, according to the quality commission’s latest performance report.

There are 4,920 aged care services, including 2,684 residential care services, and 188,931 aged care residents, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Sector performance report on the January – March 2022 quarter shows.

There were 2,767 aged care complaints for the quarter, including 1,679 complaints related to residential care. That’s up from 2,543 and 1,639 respectively on the previous quarter. But complaints per 100 residents have remained at 0.89, according to the report released earlier this month.

Residential aged care complaints. Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Sector performance report on the January – March 2022 quarter

The latest aged care complaints covered 4,155 issues and 978 residential care services. Among the most common issues complained about were personal and oral hygiene, staff numbers and medication management (see top 10 list above). Visitor restrictions (112) and concerns about preparedness and prevention topped the list of COVID-19 related complaints.

Around two-thirds of services received one complaint (621) and the remainder more than one (357). Most complaints were made by a representative or family member (935), followed by anonymous (403), other interested person (172) and the care recipient (141).

The commission finalised 1,372 complaints about residential care during the quarter. Across all of aged care there were 5,980 issues raised and 4,806 issues finalised.

Reportable incidents down

Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Sector performance report on the January – March 2022 quarter

The commission received 9,752 reportable incidents including 3,900 priority one and 5,852 priority two notifications. Total and priority one notifications have fallen compared to the previous quarter of 10,930 and 5,102 reportable incidents respectively.

However, priority two notifications are a little higher than the previous quarter (5,828).

Almost two-thirds of reported incidents were for unreasonable use of force (6,177 – see graph right).

According to the report, the large proportion of notifications of ‘Unreasonable use of force’ is partly attributable to the relatively broad range of incidents that can be captured under this heading – including squeezing, grabbing, pinching, rough handling, hitting, pushing, and forcing someone to move against their will.

Another reason is the incident type also includes alleged, suspected or known incidents initiated by a resident that impact another resident.

The commission made a regulatory or enforcement response to 1,434 reportable incidents, most commonly with monitoring and engagement (1,402).

Non-compliance up

Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Sector performance report on the January – March 2022 quarter

Standard three’s safe and effective personal and clinical care continues to be the most common standard residential homes are failing to comply with.

During the quarter, the commission made 758 site visits, which includes site audits, performance assessments, monitoring contacts and quality audits, including 693 to residential services.

It made 3,743 assessment contacts either off site (3214) or on site (529), and attended 2,795 outbreak management team meetings.

Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Sector performance report on the January – March 2022 quarter

The commission found 120 services non-compliant with at least one quality standard, including 99 residential aged care services. That’s up from 97 services and 86 residential homes found to be non-compliant the previous quarter.

Non-compliance most commonly related to personal and clinical care and governance (see top 10 graph right).

During the quarter, the commission sanctioned nine homes, up from two the previous quarter.

In regards to residential services, the commission issued:

  • 50 directions to revise plan for continuous improvement
  • 4 incident management compliance notices
  • 1 restrictive practices compliance notice
  • 37 non-compliance notices
  • 14 notices to agree.

Over the quarter, the commission accredited four new residential services and reaccredited 275 services for either three years or more (249) or less than three years (26). Two services had their accreditation period reduced.

No new residential providers approved

The commission received 10 applications to become an approved provider during the quarter but only one was for residential aged care. In the Jan-Mar 2022 quarter, no application for new residential providers were approved but two were denied approval.

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5 thoughts on “Complaints, non-compliance up, quality report shows

  1. Complaints are up?
    If you spend a second and take a way the dramatics of the author you would be very pleased to know that in residential care the complaints have come .09% …less than 1% nursing home complaints AND 40% of those are anonymous!
    Facilities should be proud of a fantastic result because everyone knows that 1% of people refuse point blank to be happy with anything!

  2. I guarantee this will all continue to rise as residential aged care struggles financially and with staffing. I doubt any new punters will enter the ring to start businesses, they will try their investment elsewhere. Unfortunately too a lot of disgruntled families take out their frustrations on the staff and managers verbally or through the complaints line (often in vindictive ways). Most staff are doing their best in very trying circumstances, this is just adding to the exodus of staff leaving and also the difficulty in finding managers to run the homes.

  3. It’s quite apparent the ACQSC continues to fail it’s primary purpose: “To protect and improve the safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life of people receiving Australian funded aged care.”
    After more than two decades of regulatory enforcement, complaints and general dissatisfaction with the system continue to escalate. There’s just no point in having a regulator that penalises operators for not meeting standards that are impossible to achieve under a system they have created.
    Just look at Standard 3: The ACQSC has overseen the decimation of staffing numbers and skilled registered nurses…and still expects a low-paid, predominately migrant workforce and junior RNs with no experience to provide advanced clinical care.
    How does the ACQSC respond? Punitively, of course. (It doesn’t fix anything, but iat least it looks like we’re doing something)

  4. Staffing levels are the main issue. They are grossly underpaid for the work they are expected to do.

  5. I submitted a detailed and serious complaint to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission over a year ago. It went to the complex case team. I have since received no information on what has been done to address the issues raised and no resolution. The last time I contacted them for an update I was told yet again that progress on our complaint is stalled due to the Commission’s lack of staff and resources. So disheartening. I submitted the complaint in the hope that the nursing home would implement the necessary changes and no other resident or family would have to go through what Mum and I did. There is no point having the Commission if they are not resourced appropriately. It is meaningless to say how many complaints have been resolved if we don’t know how many complaints are in the backlog and when they are likely to be resolved.

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