Complaints about aged care have increased by 23 per cent in the last year and 47 per cent since 2015, according to government figures showing a record 5,779 complaints were received in the last 12 months.

That compares to 3,936 complaints in 2015-16 and 4,711 complaints in 2016-17.

The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner’s 2017–18 annual report also shows the Commissioner referred 1,073 cases to the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, a rise of 130 per cent over the previous year.

That compares to 468 referrals in 2016-17.

Rae Lamb

The release of the report late on Friday comes after the announcement of a Royal Commission into aged care and the airing of an ABC Four Corners investigation into the sector that highlighted abuse and neglect of older Australians in care. Part two, “focusing on failures in government regulation and the complaints system, will air on Monday.

The report shows 75 per cent of all complaints related to residential care, with one of the most common issues being medication administration and management.

It also shows the commission received 12,398 “contacts” or questions and concerns not directly related to the commissioner’s function, a 13  per cent increase from the previous year.

Aged Care Commissioner Rae Lamb said there had been a marked growth in the number of people coming forward with complaints about care delivered in their homes, which now account for about one in four complaints.

The most common issues related to fees and charges (336), lack of communication (167) and communication about fees and charges (144).

“It is not surprising that aged care complaints are continuing to increase,” she writes in the report. “More and more people are receiving care, particularly in their own homes.”

Aged care complaints

  • Residential care: 4,315 (75 per cent)
  • Home care packages: 1,014 (18 per cent)
  • CHSP: 406 (seven per cent)

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the report showed growing concern about aged care issues.

However the data also showed that almost three quarters of complaints were resolved within 30 days, Mr Wyatt said.

The Complaints Commissioner and the Quality Agency will merge in January to form a new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

“I am confident the new Commission will better target sub-standard care,” Mr Wyatt said.

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