Complaints Commissioner to create more robust aged care sector

In a bid to separate the complaints, regulation and funding arms of aged care an ‘independent’ Aged Care Complaints Commissioner role has been newly established.

Ms Rae Lamb stepped into the role in January this year, and supported by a team of 150 people located at multiple sites across Australia, will handle and investigate any complaint relating to a Commonwealth subsidised residential or home-based aged care service.

The announcement, by Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport the Hon Sussan Ley MP was one welcomed by Dementia Australia.

Dementia Australia National President, Professor Graeme Samuel AC said he supported comments made by the Minister that by separating complaints from the regulation and funding of aged care the aged care complaints process would be strengthened.

“Making the Commissioner independent gives consumers confidence that their complaints will be listened to and that making the complaint can lead to positive action to improve care for themselves, loved ones and others,” Professor Samuel said.

“Dementia Australia is pleased that consumer concerns about reluctance to complain identified by the Productivity Commission’s 2011 report, Caring for Older Australians, have been considered - with the independent Commissioner allowing complaints to be lodged openly, confidentially and anonymously by anyone including care recipients, family members, friends, staff, volunteers or professionals.” 

Professor Samuel said the independent Aged Care Complaints Commissioner was a welcome step in the right direction – but needed to be complemented with a broader commitment to putting some quality indicators in place across the aged care sector. 

“This can only be done by listening to what consumers have to say about their experience of care and services, through transparent reporting to drive quality improvement, consumer confidence and informed consumer choice,” he said. 

“By being able to measure quality based on consumer experience, we can aim to improve care and services not only for the 353,800 people living with dementia, but all Australians accessing aged care services across the country.”

Anyone can make a complaint relating to any aspect of Commonwealth subsidised aged care services by calling the 1800 550 552 helpline Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm (AEDST), or through the website: www.agedcarecomplaints.gov.au

Consumers can also call the National Aged Care Advocacy line on 1800 700 600 for access to free, independent, confidential advocacy support.