Food for thought on the importance of complaints

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When it comes to living in an aged care home, the comfort and well-being of residents should always be a top priority. However, often older people feel awkward complaining as they don’t want to ‘rock the boat’. Here are some key reasons why residents should voice their concerns if they’re unhappy about an aspect of their care arrangements.

The Charter of Aged Care Rights is a key document a new resident should have in their welcome/information packs when they enter an aged care home. It sets out the 14 rights they have as a consumer of aged care services. It’s the aged care provider’s responsibility to uphold these and to not breach them in any way.

If you’re not sure whether or not to make a consumer complaint, our Advocate Team has collected these examples of why making a complaint to your aged care provider in general, can be beneficial.

  1. Fostering positive change: Raising the issue is the first step toward improvement, and making a complaint is one way to do this.
  2. Service improvement: Complaints are essential for improving services and up-skilling or retraining service provider staff. Constructive feedback helps providers understand where they are falling short and how they can better meet the resident’s or client’s needs.
  3. Creating a safe environment: Making a complaint is not about ‘rocking the boat’. Quality Standard 6 for aged care providers mandates aged care providers must create a safe environment that encourages feedback and complaints.
  4. Empowerment: Complaints empower older people to ensure their aged care provider is delivering safe and high-quality services, allowing them to live the life they choose.
  5. Feeling heard: Regardless of how insignificant a complaint might seem, it’s important for all care recipients to feel listened to and cared for, and to be able to enjoy their day-to-day lives.
  6. Upholding required standards: Complaints can highlight areas where standards are not being met, holding service providers accountable.
  7. Awareness of rights and obligations: Through the process of complaining, consumers can better understand their rights and obligations, leading to a more open and positive relationship with their service provider.
  8. Investigation and resolution: Complaints allow issues to be investigated and addressed, resulting in an improved standard of care.

Contented lady after a meal

Case study: Marguerite’s* experience

Here’s a great example of how raising what seems like a simple complaint about food can make a big difference to a resident’s quality of life.

Marguerite, a resident in an aged care home, was concerned about the quality and nutritional value of a particular meal served at the home. She’d raised concerns multiple times with the kitchen staff, but her concerns were not taken seriously and the matter was dismissed. She was labelled a ‘troublemaker,’ and understandably felt frustrated and uncomfortable.

What Advocare did to help

On Marguerite’s request, an advocate from Advocare contacted the home to obtain more information about the meal being served, including its nutritional value, ingredients, and cost. The Advocate contacted the home to obtain more information about the meal being served, such as ingredients and nutritional information. The Advocate then provided Marguerite with this information, confirming her suspicions the meal was served cheaply and provided low nutritional value.

Marguerite wished to take the matter further, so with her agreement, our Advocate then arranged a meeting with the provider so Marguerite could express her concerns.

During the meeting, the Advocate supported Marguerite to share her concerns, and the provider listened attentively. Both parties agreed to trial an alternative meal to the one she’d complained about. Marguerite was happy with the outcome of a more satisfactory and nutritious meal and was pleased her efforts had led to an improvement in the meal’s quality – one that she could now enjoy.

Taking a complaint to another level

Complaints are not just about highlighting problems; they are about empowering residents, ensuring quality, and fostering positive change. By voicing concerns, residents can significantly improve their living conditions and the overall service quality in aged care homes. Advocare is here to support this process, ensuring every older person can live the life they choose.

*Marguerite’s real name is changed to protect this person’s identity.