The aged care regulator is reaching out directly to consumers for the first time to gain an insight into home care during COVID-19.

The Consumer Engagement Survey for Home Care Package Services, which began in June, aims to develop a better understanding of the quality of care being provided by service providers, Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson said.

Ms Anderson told the Dementia Australia Symposium Series on Tuesday that more than 4,200 calls have already been made out of a targeted 5,000.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson speaks at the Dementia Australia Symposium Series on August 18.

“For the first time my regulator is reaching out and hearing directly the consumer voice, not through the complaints channel, but randomly in the community,” Ms Anderson said.

“We’re asking, ‘we understand you’re receiving a home care service, how is going? What is your experience of that service? Tell us about it, tell us if you have any concerns. If you’d like to praise your care giver, tell us that too.”

She said early feedback indicated that some home care recipients remain puzzled by their package or have concerns about the continuity of care, with different workers coming into their homes.

The survey will cover aspects of the Aged Care Quality Standards including respect, staff follow-up of issues, how often services are updated and where improvements can be made.

It will also include four specific COVID questions, including whether services have been cancelled or changed, if the provider is charging additional fees, and what precautions are being taken against COVID during staff visits.

Home care was very different to residential care, Ms Anderson said, and it had to be regulated differently.

“Regulation of home care is harder, I think that is generally recognised,” she said.

“Our dilemma is that we are not as well placed to visit numbers of care recipients in their home environment.

“No one has that regulatory workforce, so we’re reliant on other channels of information to understand quality and safety in that context.”

Ms Anderson said complaints and enquires to the regulator about COVID across both sectors peaked at 367 between April 27 and May 3, before tailing off following the release of the visitor access code for residential care.

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  1. I stopped all in home care services to on the 10th March, taking no chances that my severely immuno compromised situation is not put at risk, my wife point blank refuses, the only people allowed in my home are medical, my GP comes to me monthly for my injection and updates on how I am travelling, I have left the house 6 times during that time mostly dentist…

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