A growing number of older people receive aged care services either in their own home or in a residential aged care facility.
Sometimes people receiving care, or family members or friends of those receiving care, have concerns about the quality or cost of the care being provided.
All people receiving Government subsidised aged care have rights and responsibilities which are outlined in the following publications:
The Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities – Residential Care
The Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities for Home Care
The key principles of both charters are that people receiving aged care have a right to:
- be treated and accepted as an individual, and to have his or her individual preferences respected
- be treated with dignity, with his or her privacy respected
- receive care that is respectful of him or her, and his or her family and home
- receive care without being obliged to feel grateful to those providing the care
- to full and effective use of all human, legal and consumer rights, including the right to freedom of speech regarding his or her care
- to have access to advocates and other avenues of redress
- to be treated without exploitation, abuse, discrimination, harassment or neglect.
What should you do if you have a concern?
Read the charter of rights and responsibilities and your agreement with the aged care provider
Discuss your concern with the provider of your aged care services
If you are not comfortable to discuss your complaints with the provider of your service or the complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction, you can contact your state aged care advocacy organisation to discuss your concerns. It is a free, confidential and independent service, and it can provide you with advice and support.
The National Aged Care Advocacy Line is 1800 700 600
If you still have concerns or the issue has not been addressed your next step is to contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner
The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner is an independent organisation. It provides a free service for anyone to raise their concern about the quality of care or services delivered to people receiving aged care services funded by the Australian Government.
How to make a complain to the Aged Care Commissioner
1800 550 552
Aged Care Complaints Commissioner
Clare and Barry's story
Clare and Barry had been new to needing support to remain living in their home. It was Clare who had had a fall and broken her hip. This meant quite a long period of rehabilitation – and with no family available to help, this changed the dynamics of the household considerable. Barry was struggling with his diabetes and had recently decided it was best not to drive.
Barry has been assessed to receive a level 2 Home Care Package. Everything started out well, and the provider had been very responsive. However, over time the service was declining: staff changed and communication with the case manager was providing very difficult. Now with Clare unable to help, the situation was becoming impossible. They needed more help not less.
Clare and Barry looked at their agreement they had made with their provider. It said that they should sort any problems out directly, and if that did not work, they should go to what was known at the “advocacy service’.
Clare and Barry were not complainers, in fact they never made a complaint before. However, after leaving several phone messages with his provider, Barry was fed up, and contacted the advocacy service in his state. When they also failed to respond over the next fortnight, Barry decided to contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. The Commissioner’s office was very helpful. They noted Barry’s concern and assured him that they would try to get an early resolution.
Making a complaint can take energy, so sometimes people prefer to live in hope that things will get better. Barry and Clare took the step of making a complaint because they needed all the help that they could get during a difficult time.
For more information about making a complaint, the Aged Care Commissioner has developed an excellent booklet I have a concern which includes some practical tips and outline of the complaints process. The booklet is available in hard copy and in many community languages and can be ordered online or over the phone.
This article is prepared by COTA Australia Home Care Today program. Home Care Today is a national service that aims to support both consumers and Home Care Package Providers by providing information, resources, and peer support that focus on proving the tools to make the most of the benefits and opportunities of Consumer Directed Care.
Disclaimer: This is general advice and does not take into account your particular circumstances or objectives.