Comms, charges top home care complaints

Providers do not always involve clients in the planning of their care, says quality commission.

Consultation and finances head the list of complaints received by the aged care regulatory body from in-home care clients, says a new report.

Released on Monday by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, the report – Complaints about aged care home services – Insights for people receiving care – shows 15 per cent of all complaints concerned consultation and communication. Disagreements over fees and charges came second, making up 10 per cent of all complaints received.

Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

“Older people have told us providers do not always involve them in planning their care or communicate well about how their services are coordinated,” say the report’s authors. “They also have issues understanding fees and the way the provider charges for services. This can include problems understanding statements and invoices.”

The first-ever complaints report compiled specifically for people receiving aged care draws on the experiences of the more than 1 million older people who used Home Care Packages or the Commonwealth Home Support Program during July to December 2023.

Janet Anderson

“Around one quarter of all Australians aged 65 and over are receiving government-subsidised aged care at home,” said Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson in a statement accompanying the release of the 35-page report.

“It is important that those people are confident about the quality and safety of that care. That confidence comes from having choice and control over how your care is provided and letting your provider know if something is not right.”

In all, the regulatory body received 1,939 complaints from home care clients during the period – 40 per cent of which concerned HCPs.

Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

Out of 2,112 home care providers, 33 per cent were the subject of at least one complaint received by the commission during the period.

Most of the complaints were lodged by care recipients (893), closely followed by a representative or family member (838).

Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

Of the complainants, 66 per cent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the way the commission handled their criticisms.

Responding to the findings, chief executive officer of the Older Persons Advocacy Network Craig Gear told Australian Ageing Agenda that the two main areas of focus in the report – communication and finances – directly reflect the experience of OPAN advocates on the ground.

Craig Gear

“Communication, fees and charges, and choice and decision-making were key issues in our third quarter data analysis report and this is a consistent pattern,” said Mr Gear. “While the 66 per cent satisfaction rate is promising, that means 34 per cent of older people and their families did not have their complaints satisfactorily resolved.”

He added: “And we must remember that a complaint to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is often seen by older Australians as a last-resort measure. Advocates have also reported that the commission is very reliant on undertakings given by service providers and that it does not follow up to ensure the actions have been completed before finalising complaints.”

As well as complaint data, the regulator’s report lists the eight quality standards to help older people understand what they can expect to receive from their home care services provider and explains what clients can do if things are not the way they want. It also clarifies the commission’s complaints process and the outcomes they can expect.

Complementing the report, the commission also hosted a webinar this week featuring Ms Anderson, Mr Gear and other key stakeholders including Aged Care Complaints Commissioner Louise Macleod. Available below, it aimed to help people understand their rights in aged care, what is expected from home services providers, and how the commission can help.

Louise Macleod

“Anyone can make a complaint and if something is not right or does not seem right, I really encourage you to speak up,” said Ms Macleod. “For providers, every complaint is an opportunity to make changes and address the things that are important to the people they are caring for.”

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Tags: aged care quality and safety commission, complaints about aged care home services, complaints report, craig gear, Janet Anderson, Louise Macleod, opan,

2 thoughts on “Comms, charges top home care complaints

  1. One would hope OPAN advocacy is better than their basic Maths.

    66% plus 44% = 110%. 34% are not satisfied which is a better but still a result with room for improvement.

    One would hope its unintentional and not deliberately misleading to again make the industry look worse than it really is.

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