Complaints about community aged care account for a growing share of concerns received by the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, new data shows.
The latest annual report from the independent commissioner Rae Lamb showed the office received 1,027 complaints about home care packages and the Commonwealth Home Support Program, making up 22 per cent of all complaints received.
The most common areas of complaint in both home-based programs related to fees and charges, followed by a lack of consultation and communication.
Concern over a lack of consistent client care and coordination also made it into the top three complaints about the CHSP.
Home care packages, where CDC is now a core principle of the program, attracted a higher number of complaints (688) compared to the entry-level support program (339), which delivers services to the most number of consumers in the aged care system.
Ms Lamb welcomed the growth in community aged care complaints as a sign that consumers were becoming more confident to make a complaint in this service area.
“This has been an area where people have seldom complained previously,” she said.
The commissioner said she wanted to “de-stigmatise” complaints and encourage consumers and providers to see complaints as a normal part of providing care and services.
She said in an increasingly consumer-focused aged care environment, service providers should be encouraged to be more open about complaints and how they responded to them.
“Services that disclose how many complaints they get, and how they deal with them, will be more attractive. For the baby boomers, such transparency may be a selling point. It will help people to feel safe raising concerns.”
The report included real case studies of home care package complaints including a family feeling pressured to sign a new home care agreement with higher exit fees that had not been agreed to. Another consumer was told they could not purchase equipment despite sufficient funds being available in their package.
Both complaints were resolved through early resolution processes with the provider.
While representing an increasing share of the commission’s work, the overall number of complaints in community aged care remains much lower than for residential care, which received 3,656 complaints in 2016-2017.
According to the annual report:
- 15 per cent of all complaints were about home care packages, up 3 per cent on previous year
- 7 per cent were about the Commonwealth Home Support Program, up 1 per cent on previous year.
The report covers the first full year since the commissioner took over the functions of the Department’s former Aged Care Complaints Scheme in January 2016.
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