Sep 04, 2017

“One of the key lessons I have learned is the power of an apology”

As children we get taught that when we do something wrong, we should apologise and say we’re sorry.

So why is it that as adults, and organisations, we struggle to admit fault and apologise when things go wrong?

In aged care, there is often more focus on fixing, or historically even covering up, the problem that people simply forget to apologise and seek forgiveness.

With negative aged care stories becoming more frequent and more vocal through the media, it appears that there are a lot of facilities that need to send their apologies.

The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, Rae Lamb, recently wrote an article about “The Power of an Apology”.

“I have worked in complaints for many years, and one of the key lessons I have learned is the power of an apology. I’ve learned that something as simple as an apology can reduce the anger and distress people may be feeling.”

“It supports continued or improved positive and respectful relationships between the service provider and a complainant. In short, it helps to quickly resolve most complaints!”

In her piece, she talks about how in 2013 NSW Deputy Ombudsman Chris Wheeler said the effectiveness of appropriate apologies had been overshadowed by this idea, from society in general and by the caution of lawyers, that apologies are associated with “unacceptable risk taking”.

He said, “It is well past the time that we reverse this trend and recognise that the giving of apologies is not only the ethically and morally right thing to do when mistakes for which we are responsible have caused harm, but also in a very practical sense a very powerful risk management tool”.

Rae Lamb agrees. “For a service provider, saying sorry when something has gone wrong is the right thing to do morally, and it’s the right thing to do for your organisation.”

“When people approach us with complaints, we often see that an early acknowledgement of a failure in care and a good apology goes a very long way to taking the heat out of these issues, allowing the parties to focus on resolving them.”

It should be noted that an apology is not an automatic admission of guilt, and not about laying blame.

What an apology should be is a recognition that the service provided has not met expectations of the consumer and that things could have been done better.

Obviously, not all problems that happen in aged care can be resolved with an apology, however, that is not an excuse for why one shouldn’t apologise.

What should happen is that a problem is resolved and then an apology is given to admit a mistake was made.

Lamb continues, “when the single aged care quality framework replaces the current accreditation and quality standards next year, service providers will have to demonstrate that they practice open disclosure when things go wrong. This means not just telling people about what has occurred, but also saying sorry.”

According to Lamb, hospitals and health services in Australia are already required to do this. And aged care should be no different.

“Aged care is a growth industry and we need to weave into that industry a culture that quickly says sorry when things go wrong, before it’s too late to apologise,” says Lamb.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Banner Banner
Advertisement

Savings from home care changes should go to cutting wait list

  The government is proposing to change the way it delivers funding for home care services because there is a growing problem with rising levels of unspent funds. Currently, funding for home care is delivered in bulk and upfront. One problem of that system is when funding is not spent by the consumer, it remains with the provider.... Read More

Home care providers offered kickbacks for new customers, Royal Commission hears

In the latest hearings from The Royal Commission, witnesses revealed their experiences of being offered kickbacks for new customers, being assessed by aggressive, unfriendly auditors, being forced to hire administrators charging exorbitant fees, and a care recipient who died waiting for their home care package to come through. Auditors “confronting, ”condescending” and “unfriendly” A registered nurse... Read More

Parkinson’s May Start In Your Gut, What New Evidence Suggests

Parkinson’s disease affects millions of people all over the world, with over 80,000 in Australia where it is the second most common neurological disease following dementia. There are 32 new cases diagnosed every day in Australia and 20% of them are in people who are under the age of 50, a fact that shakes up the belief that Parkinson’s... Read More
Banner Banner
Advertisement