Complaints about home care services have risen slightly, a first-of-its-kind report from the regulator shows.
Published by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, Complaints about aged care services – Insights for providers explores the complaints received by the regulatory body about aged care services.
“This report uses the information we collect as the national regulator to give providers key insights from the thousands of complaints we manage and resolve every year,” writes commission chief Janet Anderson in the report’s foreword. “Providers are encouraged to use the data, case studies and guided questions in this report to learn about good complaint handling processes that they can apply to their service.”
Covering the period July 2022 to June 2023, the report shows 4,015 complaints were received about home services – up on the previous year (3,825).
Home services include Home Care Packages, Commonwealth Home Support Program services, services delivered in a home setting, and flexible care.
Victoria received the most home care complaints during the period (1,237), followed by New South Wales (1,030), then Queensland (898).
Lack of consultation and communication, and financial matters – particularly fees and charges – feature prominently in complaints from people receiving home care and their representatives and family members.
The top 10 complaint issues for home services were:
People receiving home services were more likely than family members and representatives to complain about:
- the availability or quality of general house cleaning
- domestic assistance
- how providers communicated fees and charges.
Family members and representatives raised more concerns than people receiving care about:
- how providers managed people’s finances
- the processing of reimbursements for bought items.
Anonymous complainants were more likely to raise concerns about the skills and qualifications of staff.
As the 33-page report shows, the commission finalised a total of 4,202 home services complaints between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023.
“Resolving complaints is one of the commission’s core responsibilities and functions,” writes Ms Anderson. “We work closely with people making complaints and providers to take action on and, where possible, address concerns about the care and services being delivered.”
Handling complaints well both reflects and reinforces attributes of a high-performing aged care service, writes complaints commissioner Louise Macleod. “It helps providers to meet general principles of fairness, transparency, inclusiveness, accessibility and building a culture of open disclosure.”
Ms Macleod – who was appointed to her role in May –adds: “Early and effective resolution of complaints leads to improved care for older Australians. It speaks to how efficient and effective the organisation is and supports providers to deliver the outcomes that older Australians want.”