Concerns over fees topped the list of home care complaints to the new Aged Care Complaints Commissioner in the first six months of 2016, data released yesterday shows.

The commissioner, Rae Lamb, received 94 complaints relating to fees and a further 55 concerning other financial matters. Poor communication between a home care package recipient and service provider was the second most common area of complaint – attracting 66 formal complaints to the commissioner’s office.

Overall, complaints about home care packages and the Commonwealth Home Support Program accounted for 18 per cent of all complaints in 2016, a 6 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Ms Lamb said the transition to an independent commissioner and greater public awareness of the office may explain the rise in the number of aged care complaints received.

The 390 complaints relating to community aged care reflect only a small proportion of the approximately 895,000 older people who access care and support each year.

Complaints regarding services under the CHSP fell into similar categories as packaged care– the most common being fees (14), lack of communication (13) and other financial concerns (8).

While the former Aged Care Complaints Scheme published common issues of complaint, this is the first time complaints data has been broken down by program type.

The commissioner’s first annual report released on Wednesday showed 91 per cent of complaints were finalised by the commissioner within 90 days and early resolution was achieved in 87 per cent of cases.

Family members or representatives accounted for nearly 60 per cent of aged complaints, followed by 16 per cent from care recipients and 25 per cent from anonymous complainants or referrals from other agencies.

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.

The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner took over the functions of the Department’s former Aged Care Complaints Scheme from 1 January.

Aged care complaints received 1 January to 30 June 2016:

  • Residential aged care – 1,746 (81 per cent)
  • Home care packages – 276 (13 per cent)
  • Commonwealth Home Support Program – 114 (5 per cent)
  • Flexible and community care services – 17 (1 per cent)

Read the annual report in full here

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