What is the most complained about aspect of aged care?

What is the most complained about aspect of aged care?

The sufficiency of the aged care workforce has emerged as the most complained about issue in aged care over the last six months.

The latest Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission ‘Sector performance report’ revealed the regulator received 224 complaints about ‘Personnel number/sufficiency’ in the three months to 30 June 2021, out of 1,511 complaints in total.

Peter Vincent, managing director of Aged Care Management Australia, told HelloCare there are staff shortages in aged care, but staff are also not being properly trained for the work. 

A drain on knowledge and experience as staff, particularly older workers, leave the sector is compounding the problem.

“They’re saying it’s just too hard,” he said.

The workforce also doesn’t have “the required experience and knowledge” it has had in the past, particularly in country areas, Vincent said. 

As an example, Vincent said he has worked with one country facility where 80% of RNs have less than 12 months’ experience.

Regional aged care homes also suffer when staff go on leave because there often aren’t staff to replace them.

It’s unsurprising then that the regulator’s report also shows that during the quarter, of the 189 aged care homes found to have failed an aged care quality standard, the most commonly breached standard was ‘Personal care and clinical care,’ with nearly 150 homes failing on that count.

‘Safe and effective personal and clinical care’ was the most commonly failed requirement, with 82 homes failing. ‘Number and mix of workforce’ was the third most commonly failed requirement, with 64 homes failing.

“That follows,” said Vincent.

“The simple fact is, we don’t have enough staff and we’ve known that we’re running out of staff for the last decade and a half. We’ve had multiple state and federal government think tanks that have done nothing… We’re simply not addressing the problems,” Vincent said.

COVID-19 has magnified staffing problems. As an example, one NSW home on the ACT border lost 50% of its workforce when the ACT border closed.

Similarly, indigenous providers in the Northern Territory have come to rely on backpackers for 15–20% of their workforce, but that dried up due to COVID-19, according to Vincent.

Certificate III training needs to be longer, ideally six months, and prospective staff should be required to pass aptitude and academic tests before they can begin training, he suggested.

South Australia had the highest rate of complaints per head of population, with 2.56 complaints per 100 residents, compared with 2.00 in both NSW and Victoria. Vincent puts this down to staff shortages and a lack of skilled staff in regional homes.

Until the end of last year, ‘Medication administration and management’ was generally the most-complained-about aspect of aged care. But during the June quarter, medication management came in at second place, with 214 complaints.

Personal and oral hygiene was the third-most-complained about aspect of aged care, with 181 complaints.

Food and catering received 110 complaints. The government’s $10 per day increase in the basic daily fee was only delivered from 1 July, so it was too early to be reflected in the regulator’s report.

The overall number of complaints was down slightly on the 1,559 complaints received the previous quarter.

More than half of the complaints received, 786, came from resident representatives or families.

Of the 2,707 residential aged care homes in Australia, 1,809 received no complaints at all. More than three hundred homes were the subject of more than one complaint during the quarter.

Despite the high number of homes to have failed at least one quality standard, only five homes were sanctioned during the quarter. 

Two homes were issued with ‘Notices to agree’. 

Sanctions are imposed when the regulator isn’t satisfied with the provider’s response to a non-compliance notice or when there is an immediate and severe risk to residents.

There are more than 179,000 aged care residents in Australia, and nearly 180,000 recipients of home care packages. However, there are nearly one million – 823,000 – recipients of Commonwealth Home Support Programs, by far the largest provider of care for elderly people in Australia.

During the quarter, nine new residential aged care homes were accredited and two applications for residential aged care providers were approved. Five homes applied for approval, but two were rejected. One failed to proceed.

Of the nation’s 2,261 home care services, 716 received complaints. ‘Lack of consultation or communication’ was the most-complained-about issue in home care.

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  1. Really? Aptitude and academic for a cer111? I had all that when I applied but I certainly? I can tell you it helps but the main issue would be hiring the right people! And paying them much a much better higher rate of pay for this ‘aptitude and academic test. Really you won’t get the right people in the system if you expect them to pass a test of this magnitude unless you make all staff Registered Nurses. Maybe that would solve the problem. All Registered Nurses doing the cares. All I see is aged care making it harder for the average worker to get into the system if you make it too academic particularly when you have dreadful wages for their effort.As I have said before and I will say it again the best Aged Care workers that would be reliable and stay for the long haul are women past the age of 35. They most often need the hours that suit them with children and won’t go off to study their RNs but if the money is still too lowbdon’tbexpect them to stay for long as it is a real eye opener when they see how much physical work is involved for the no of heavy residents to hoist to the toilet and shower every day let alone the residents with physical and verbal behaviours and when short staffed! Exhausting! That is why you need to choose the right people for this work and people who communicate well. Let’s face it money speaks. So don’t expect university graduates to do AIN work when the conditions and wages are so appauling.

    1. Totally agree with the wages unfortunately the rate of pay isn’t even the minimum wage that you could afford to live on so you need to work two jobs and then there is burn out!

    2. As a reply to this, I am beginning a complaint re aged care places taking in mental health people of younger age and with brain damage who perpetrate their disability on very old residents and their visitors triggering very old memories and placing people in fear. THIS IS WRONG. That resident is abusive, vile language, kicking doors and walls. What’s next? A very frail resident being knocked down or hit and then excuses made to cover up? THIS IS WRONG!
      Not only that, staff aren’t psychiatric nurses, can be of other cultures, and of small stature. Are these brave folk paid enough to deal with this behaviour? I THINK NOT!
      But what does a bureaucrat or politician care? I will let them know how I care at the next election. Problem is too much ignorance in this world today until one meets the problem, and then it’s too late!

      1. Hey Donna, this has been going on now for many years, the government closed asylums and didn’t provide an alternative. Typical government miss management.

        I fully understand your fear but I’d like you to direct it to the cause and not the facility. On many many occasions potential residents have been misrepresented by third party professionals,hospitals, social workers,etc… The new resident will arrive at the facility on medication that hides the true condition and that medication is immediately withdrawn because they are considered a chemical restraint and not allowed in nursing homes. On top of that this new violent or aggressive resident has security of tenure the minute he/she sets foot in the home. The only way for a facility to protect themselves and other residents is to take every new resident as a respite place.
        It’s not easy, please try to see all sides of this situation.

    3. You are so right! A pittance of a wage, physical and mental exhaustion of carers, definitely not enough staff to provide quality of life in their last lap at life, and power/political plays by most employers has broken the system. All aged care workers should be employed by the government and seconded to an aged care provider – this will/should allow for decent wages, with increased communication and feedback transparency of what is really happening in facilies will be highlighted and acted upon. Pushing people into a workplace (aged care is regularly the last resort for people to get employed) that they’re not suitable for is an absolute disgrace. But then, how many people can last when residents are physically and verbally abusive and the rules and family are against medicating them appropriately for the well-being of all – staff and other residents who are continuously exposed to this mental anguish we have to endure? Pay the people a better wage so that we are able to afford to look after our own wellbeing in our days off by having regular RNR etc. ❤️

  2. Many people like myself left a higher paid job to work in the aged care sector fully aware of the pay cut. When you make a decision that you are passionate about and give 110% only to be bullied out is devastating. You can now understand why the culture of knowledge and experience has left. So this is how I see it, the aged care sector is an amazing rewarding industry to work and people are willing to fill the positions but you need to FIRST change the attitude at all management levels. Good Luck with this massive task.

  3. The highest complaints are in South Australia with 2.7 per 100 residents!!!

    Two out every crowd will complain even if they had a free room at the Hilton!

    That’s a fantastic result in anyone’s book.

    Unfortunately as the government continues to deliberately and knowingly underfund the residential sector this can only decline. Most facilities ran at a loss again last financial year and hard decisions are being made every day. To stay open facilities must cut costs and unfortunately staff numbers will decline.

    Some will of course blame the facility but anyone that knows what has been going on for the last six years will point the finger squarely at the Morrison government for failing to provide adequate funding for the safe and sustainable delivery of care.

  4. I have been working in aged care for 15 years. I am so frustrated by the lack of skills among staff and management trying to make money out of vulnerable elderly. So leaving aged care career for good. Good luck for those who is still trying to make difference.

  5. I totally agree with you. Our facility, even passing all aspects of an accreditation audit, has since cut staffing hours and doesn’t replace workers when off sick. It’s very stressful and physically hard work and mentally demanding. Never have the supplies needed on hand, we have to ” make do “.
    We always know when an inspection or audit is due as suddenly we get a mass load of supplies and selected residents get to go on a bus trip, so they are happy incase any of the auditors speak to them.
    A lot of the staff these days have no common sense and definitely DONT want to be there.


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