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Jump in complaints lodged to aged care body

Australia’s current aged care complaints body has seen a 23 per cent increase in the number of issues raised.

The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner’s 2017–18 Annual Report was tabled in Parliament on Friday by Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt.

Concerned Australians put forward a record 5,779 complaints. And the Commissioner referred over 1,000 cases to the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency – a rise of 130 per cent over the previous year.

Wyatt partly put the figures down to an increase in awareness about the Commissioner’s capacity, as well as growing concern about aged care issues.

“While significantly more people are using the national service, the data shows that most of their complaints are being managed effectively, with 73 per cent resolved within a 30 days and 93 per cent resolved within 90 days,” he added.

The most common issues raised in complaints about residential aged care were medication administration and management (706) and personal and oral hygiene (473). For the first time, staffing numbers and ratios made up one of the top three issues in residential care complaints, with 452 issues raised.

Commissioner Rae Lamb said the complaints to the body have increased by around 47 per cent since 2015–16.

“We have seen particularly marked growth in the number of people coming to us with complaints about care delivered in their homes,” Lamb said. “These now account for around one in four complaints.”

In her foreword, Lamb reinforced her recent push for aged care providers to be more open about complaints and how they respond to them.

She said the Commissioner is this year focused on getting that message to the boards that govern aged care services. “I have met with several of the boards of big aged care service providers.
So far at least one organisation has told us it is planning to publish more complaints information on its website as a result of the challenge. Others are still considering it.

“I hope that this will catch on and others will follow.”

In January next year, the Complaints Commissioner and the Quality Agency will join to form part of the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Wyatt said he was confident the new body will better target sub-standard care.

“Any concerns about quality of care will be managed by the one agency, making it easier for everyone to know who they can contact, and further enhancing the complaints policing and resolution process,” he said.

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