Clinical care tops the list of complaints to aged care commissioner

Concerns about core clinical standards in residential aged care were the most common complaints to the new Aged Care Complaints Commissioner in the first half of 2016, new figures show.

The rise in complaints could be accounted for because of independence of new office, says Aged Care Commissioner Rae Lamb
The rise in complaints may be partly explained by greater public awareness of new independent scheme, says Aged Care Commissioner Rae Lamb

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.

Read the annual report in full here

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Tags: aged-care-commissioner, clinical-care, compliance, continence, medication-management, quality, rae-lamb,

1 thought on “Clinical care tops the list of complaints to aged care commissioner

  1. I have to agree totally with Ms Lamb, the increase in the number of complaints would be due to awareness. From my experience unfortunately navigating our health system and finding the information on how to put forward a complaint is a nightmare for many. Myself with a Nursing background and heavy involvement in some high level projects and advisory committees as a Consumer Representative has not enabled this to be easy for myself either. I have people approach me every week seeking information and help …they don’t know where to go. Or the other issue is hand balling , one department to the other without any actual outcomes. I do feel we have some good organisations available (although many under the pump, under funded or staffed and just can’t meet with the rising demands or issues into our rapidly growing ageing population) but nothing links together. You will find a lot of groups in communities that nobody even knows about. Although might be community groups they can certainly assist and add value to addressing issues for older people and preventing on a community level. Another issue which I have experienced and friends still working in residential or community care mention, is when complaints are stopped or blocked at a middle management level. Staff also experience bullying, loss of shifts and have no direction to go. I think more accountability and certainly more education into what a person can do , both the consumer and the staff member. We must not forget we are still dealing with some who are the “silent ageing population”, won’t make a fuss and won’t speak up. This highlights another area of need , Advocay for Older people…to many slipping through the system. I will certainly be submitting a letter to Ms Lamb regarding my own current experience in my plight and fight to protect my ageing parent against elder abuse. I have utilised every single contact and every possible department I can and am proof of the failing system. In saying this, I would like to share my experience in a positive way to help others in the future. By partnering and listening to consumers we can work together to make the positive changes needed to improve standards, quality, care and service delivery.

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