A one-size-fits-all approach to consumer feedback goes against the concept of a fair go, writes Lisa Tribuzio.
When seeking feedback from consumers within aged care, a one-size-fits-all approach fails some older people.
Only giving options to fill out a survey and leaving no room for alternative ways to give feedback, leads to the exclusion of valuable input from culturally and linguistically diverse older Australians and other older people who face barriers to accessing services.
Any survey seeking input from consumers within the aged care sector is important in shaping improvements to the aged care system. However we need to ask ourselves:
- Does the survey adopt culturally inclusive methods?
- Is it available in multiple languages or plain English formats?
- Does the organising committee actively engage with peak bodies and community leaders representing diverse communities to seek input and co-design the feedback approach?
- Are flexible methods and approaches adopted beyond a survey or phone calls?
- Does the process consider the needs of older people who are illiterate or who have faced discrimination and are reluctant to give feedback to government bodies?
A recent report by the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia, a peak national body representing Australians from Culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, found the need for the national collection of data on cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity in a way that is consistent, comparable and compatible for shared insights.
The key recommendations of the report If We Don’t Count….It Doesn’t Count suggests approaches in how to ensure that data is collected taking into consideration an inclusive mindset.
It also found that social and health research should require applicants to demonstrate how the proposed research will be inclusive of people from culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse backgrounds. This is a pertinent point as too often older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are excluded from research in aged care such as dementia research.
To support this, the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing has released its Culturally Inclusive Feedback Practice Guide. The guide highlights the importance of cultural awareness when it comes to seeking consumer feedback. Some older people from culturally diverse backgrounds are unaware of their right to give feedback to government services.
In addition a lack of processes and resources in multiple languages such as feedback forms and access to interpreters, create additional barriers. Some older people may come from backgrounds where they were not empowered to give feedback to government programs safely. Some people who are newly arrived migrants may fear that a complaint to the government may have adverse implications for their immigration status.
To ensure consumer-focused approaches are adopted in line with the Aged Care Quality Standards, it is vital to have flexible approaches rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. This includes providing information about how to make complaints and provide feedback as well as rights to privacy available in plain English and languages other than English.
It is also important to provide opportunities for feedback and complaints to be provided through multiple methods and channels such as face to face, groups, community consultations and assertive outreach. To do this effectively, means partnerships with community leaders and co-designing processes that are tailored to diverse communities.
Every opinion counts and we need an inclusive feedback mindset to ensure equity in feedback processes. Not everyone can pick up a phone and speak in English about their needs. Not everyone can fill in a survey and not everyone has had life experiences which makes them feel safe to give feedback. Omitting an inclusive approach is of denying a fair go to too many older Australians accessing our aged care services.
Access the Culturally Inclusive Feedback Practice Guide here.
Lisa Tribuzio is manager of the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing, a national body supported by Victorian aged care provider Benetas.