Navigating aged care complaints: Insights, strategies for improved outcomes

Complaints about aged care services – Insights for providers July 2022 – June 2023

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s inaugural report on complaint handling, delves into insights gleaned from numerous complaints, aiming to provide aged care providers with valuable information to enhance their services. Through data analysis, case studies, and guided questions, the report highlights the importance of effective complaint handling, emphasising its role in upholding principles of fairness, transparency, and inclusiveness.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson stresses the need for visible leadership commitment at all organisational levels for successful complaints resolution.

“Good complaints handling centring on the person receiving care helps aged care providers to meet the fundamental principles of fairness, transparency, inclusiveness and accessibility, and builds a culture of open disclosure,” the Commissioner said.

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The report suggests that a significant number of complaints, especially in residential and home care services, were resolved through early resolution, showcasing the potential for meaningful dialogue and apologies to prevent escalation.

“In many cases, if supported by good complaints handling practices, providers should be able to resolve complaints before they are lodged with the Commission. Providers who invite and act on feedback from those receiving care are much more likely to deliver a positive care

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson

The new Complaints Commissioner, Louise Macleod, was appointed in May 2023 and has been working to strengthen the Commission’s complaint handling in response to recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Good complaint handling can:

  • fix problems before they escalate
  • provide better care outcomes for people receiving aged care
  • help providers to understand the people in their care and build positive relationships
    with them and their families
  • increase staff and consumer satisfaction
  • provide data and insights to help providers continuously improve
  • inform decisions about future service offerings, and
  • enhance a provider’s reputation and strengthen trust in the service.

When complaints aren’t handled well, providers can experience:

  • staff disengagement and a poor workplace culture focused on blame
  • more complaints escalated to the Commission
  • missed opportunities to improve
  • loss of valuable data, and
  • reputational damage and loss of trust.

The report encourages aged care providers to view complaints as opportunities for positive change, ultimately contributing to a culture of improved care and strengthened relationships with consumers and their families.

It can be downloaded via this link.


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