Aug 29, 2017

Top 5 Aged Care Complaints, Made by Residents and their families

Aged care has evolved with the growing number of older people needing services as well as the complex medical needs of the residents.

As the sector grows, there are higher expectations and standards set for services to meet. And when these are not met consumers are not afraid to make their voices heard.

Speaking at Australia’s Future of Aged Care Summit, Peter Staples, CEO of Management Advantage and former Minister for Aged Care, spoke about the common complaints made by aged care residents and their families.

The most frequent as published in the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner 2017 Report;

1. Medication Management

Medication is frequent in aged care, and when it prescribed or administered incorrectly, it can cause severe health complications.

Research from Macquarie University found that 85% of aged care residents were on five or more medication, and 45% are on 10 or more different medications.

In an extreme scenarios, about 4% are on more than 20 medications.

The more medication you’re on, the higher the risk of adverse effects. Therefore, medication safety is a major issue faced by aged care.

2. Falls Prevention and Post Fall Management

Falls are the number one cause of “early” deaths in older people living in aged care.

A research paper, published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that 81.5% of preventable deaths between 2000 and 2013 were attributed to falls.  

Falls are commonly associated with the elderly, but it is not a natural part of getting older. Falls can be prevented if the right precautions are taken.

3. Personal and Oral Hygiene

Bathing and oral hygiene are some of the most challenging and time consuming tasks in aged care. However, when these tasks are poorly done it can not only lead to discomfort for the resident, but also lead to other medical problems.

One of the biggest complaints in terms of personal hygiene is that it is not done frequently and thoroughly enough. This may be because staff are not adequately trained or they are rushed for time with so many residents to care for.

4. Consultation and Communication

When a family puts their loved ones into aged care, they expect the aged care provider to care for them as if it were their own family member.

However, consultations and communications is a shortcoming for many aged care services as residents and their families are excluded from important decisions and are unaware of changes to the care being received.

By doing this, choice and decisions can exclude key people that in fact should be involved.

5. Constipation and Continence Management

According to the Continence Foundation of Australia, almost 4.8 million older Australians are affected by incontinence.

And Constipation is a very common complaint amongst the elderly population affecting as many as two out of three residents in aged care.

Although the elderly are more prone to constipation and incontinence, it’s not simply a fact that this is a normal part of ageing.

There are a number of reason why a resident may experience constipation and incontinence – the main one being food and beverages.   

However, research suggests that there is a link between some drugs used for pain, depression, high blood pressure and constipation.

As an aged care service, it is expected that the those using the services receive adequate care. Organisations that shy away from complaints, feel as if the criticism is harsh and problematic for their business.

However, if aged care services are able to improve certain processes and procedures, then residents would be more comfortable and have fewer health issues, families would be happier and the organisation will be able to thrive.

Consumers should continue to provide feedback and where necessary complaints, as these are the opportunities for aged care to improve.

What do you have to say? Comment, share and like below.

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  1. I ABSOLUTELY agree with the top 5. I work in a nursing home and it’s appalling the way it is run. Another complaint is the food they are served. No matter how many times residents complain it just goes on deaf ears. Just not good enough,

    1. “Nurse aide type people” as you call them are now known as Enrolled Nurses who have great nursing skills and now are Have medication knowledge,.
      Many of whom offer lots of tender, loving care to their residents! ?

      1. In my oponion the staff nurses and carers are doing there best… more staff are needed!!! More staff equal more time for each resident… management put bare minimum on the floor.. then people complain that we aren’t doing our job or not trained enough, we can only do so much. Trust me we would love to do more.

        1. Bridge, I agree with your comment more staff needed. I have worked more than ten years in aged care. All five areas mentioned will improve with more trained staff to each resident. No matter how much research is done, the simple fact is each residents care and quality of life would improve with more staff.

    2. All comes down to staff ratios The Royal Commission has changed NOTHING and everybody knows the problem

  2. Personal and oral hygiene is a worry and that is common sense to me but I don`t believe the staff have enough time. My husband has skin problems and comes home from respite in the nursing home, with outbreaks on his back every time.

  3. Aged care nursing is the very heart of nursing – looking after a human’s basic needs , keeping their dignity and worthiness, yet nurses in aged care are looked down on . They are paid less and are not the “glamorous ” type of job a graduate nurse envisages.

    1. I am a Registered Nurse and have worked in a number of different settings from hospital, community to aged care. I am now involved in teaching people to become carers. I can honestly say that we teach people how to perform tasks thoroughly and I know most of the students are diligent and want to do the best job possible. Having witnessed just how hard carers in aged care facilities work, they get burnt out from the amount of work, harsh criticism from resident’s family members, management expecting more all the time and just the emotional work of caring for the elderly. It is a rewarding job in so many ways but we can do more to help carers so they ‘fill their own cups’ whilst caring for others. Instead of being critical, a smile, a kind word acknowledging what people do well goes a very long way. Remember this is a role that not many people could do. I take my hat off to carers and “nurse aide type people”.

      1. Jo, I agree : I have been working in Aged Care for the past 15 years. Over prescribing medication has nothing to do with the facility, as each resident has their own GP who decides, along with their family, what meds they get. RNs can offer suggestions, but are often ignored by GPs. This is all discussed with family and GP during case conferences.
        Falls increased with the new “no restraints “ policy, which means that it is very rare that anyone is allowed bedrails, and only after family insist, and sign a document stating that they want their family member to use them.
        We communicate every new problem, Drs visit, medication and appointment each resident has. We personally phone their next of kin.
        Having had 3 grandparents who all nearly made it to 100, and not in Aged Care , I know that constipation is a problem for most elderly, whether from opioid medication or simple dehydration. We monitor this on a daily basis, and offer our resources to correct , or help them cope with it.
        I do however agree that oral care often slips under the radar, simply because of the time constraints we work under. We do the best we can, in the time we have. More staff would ensure more care.

      2. I agree! I am an a 65 disabled woman in care at home with a carer that I rely on immensely. He is my main carer, although I do have one for hygiene. My main carer is only young but is terrific in the work he does, so I feel a smile, a thank you or letting him know the job was well done is not to much to ask. I have heard that to many people are rude and too quick to complain so I do feel sorry for them for missing out on a rapport and good working relationship with their carer.
        For the good ones, don’t ever change we love you and respect you!!

  4. Food would also be a big issue. Given two cocktail franks as an evening meal at 5pm with nothing else to eat until breakfast is a long time with little food. Management deciding that residents only need to shower every second or third day does not help with hygiene, a sponge wash is just not as good. Walk in baths should be available in all care centres as many of the elderly always bathed not showered and this would also help them with pain management, Medications always will be an issue when it comes to time. PRN’s have to be approved by the RN who has to leave what ever they are doing and come up to check charts before you can give it, sometimes that can take hours before they are able to give the ok, even for a refresh eye drop.

    1. Most certainly food is a major issue. Constantly exposed and mostly ignored. The issue is simply one of cost and management. Those in middle to high level managerial roles happily preserve extremely high remuneration levels (relative to other industries) while applying bean counting principles and ratios to food supply and preparation budgets. In many cases the role is outsourced to supply enterprise operators, and in so doing te entity compromises and in time can lose “direct control” of an extremely important function.

  5. Yes your all right, not enough of this, not enough of that when the real problem is NOT ENOUGH STAFF. I WORK IN AGED CARE THERES NEVER ENOUGH STAFF. UNTIL THAT CHANGES,NOTHINV WILL CHANGE,!!!!!Joha

  6. Every one of these problems comes down to inadequate staffing.
    Until there is sufficient, trained staff employed for residents’ care, the solutions are only bandaids.
    Aged Care has become a business and therefore profit seeking. More staffing equals more money outgoing which equals less profit and the connection is continually ignored between happy staff equalling happy residents.
    ACFI and Accreditation Standards offered some hope but personally i feel they have lost their way. The complexity of the required paperwork is just amounting to a further drain on limited staff.

  7. Apart from all the issues described in previous statements which I agree with there are 2 issues which I find frightening about Aged Care. Firstly the facilities that use care workers..SUPPOSEDLY trained …to do medication rounds with absolutely no idea about drugs. Secondly the short staffing issue where you will have one RN..this is for the evening shifts…in charge of the whole facility with up to 90 residents with no other trained person on site. FRIGHTENING STUFF!!!!

  8. Staff Ratios are a major problem as everybody knows. So why have some Aged Care Facilities in Adelaide cut staff and shifts??

  9. All of the above points and more, become not only more problematic but are exacerbated, when a resident is placed under the so-called ‘protection’ of the public guardian and public trustee!! Every nuanced decision, e.g., using nasal spray that has been used, to effect, for years by the resident at home, must Not be used ‘in care’ unless written up and approved by the doctor (who usually Does Not Know the resident and/or their history!). Any suggestion/request by family Must go to the PG/PT first, to whom the resident is only number and source of funds, not an actual person to be cared about and/or for!!!

  10. Well this tells me that Aged Care Facilities can’t fulfil the role of Aged Care. The things listed are essential to everyday living and comfort. This all gets back to financial transparency for the money they get from private individuals and tax payers money, and training. Employ more qualified people also.

    Home Care is much better and our government need to release more high level packages. Stop giving money to private operators to spend on their own lifestyle.

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