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Aged Care Standard 6 and using feedback and complaints to improve service quality

 

Feedback is important for organisations to understand the consumer experience and to improve the quality of care and services being provided. Complaints can be a valuable source of feedback. Australian aged care providers are expected to have mechanism to manage feedback and complaints as outlined in the Aged Care Quality Standards. This In Focus feature article highlights Standard 6: Feedback and Complaints and the palliAGED resources that can help you and your aged care organisation.

 

Standard 6: Feedback and Complaints

The Charter of Aged Care Rights explicitly note that older people have the right to complain free from reprisal, and to have their complaints dealt with fairly and promptly.

Standard 6 reminds us that feedback and complaints processes are important for the consumer and for the organisation. This can help resolve issues and improve the type and quality of services. Residents, clients and families need to feel comfortable about providing feedback and making a complaint knowing that the service will openly and positively address the points being made. All consumers need to be aware of how to make complaints. This may mean making sure information is provided in different languages, offering support for people with cognitive or communication problems and making residents aware of external processes including advocacy agencies and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner’s role.

 

Standard 6 Icon - Feedback and complaints

"I feel safe and am encouraged and supported to give feedback and make complaints.

I am engaged in processes to address my feedback and complaints and appropriate action is taken."

Consumer outcome statement for Aged Care Standard 6. Source: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission website. The use of this image does not constitute an endorsement by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission of palliAGED activities.

Feedback and complaints at the end of life

When an illness is deemed incurable and death is foreseeable and expected, an individual has reached the point of ‘end-of-life’.

Even when people are in the last year of life and approaching death, they are still living. The person and their family can provide critical feedback on what matters and what makes a difference.

 

"The organisation regularly seeks input and feedback from consumers, carers, the workforce and others and uses the input and feedback to inform continuous improvements for individual consumers and the whole organisation.

palliAGED Resources for Standard 6

All older Australians need to have access to information about complaints systems. Staff must be confident to ensure that they can support all consumers in providing feedback and/or those making a complaint including those who may speak a language other than English and those who may have physical or cognitive issues which affect communication.

There are a range of palliAGED resources that can provide information and support knowledge and training. Many of these resources include learning opportunities for careworkers and nursing staff and organisational suggestions.

Advocacy

Advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling people to express their opinions and concerns, to access information and services, to defend and promote their rights and responsibilities, and to explore choices and options. There is an evidence page and a practice page on advocacy.

Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is an act which harms an older person and is carried out by someone they trust.  All health professionals, aged care staff and service providers have responsibilities with regard to elder abuse. There is an evidence page and a practice page relating to elder abuse.

Dignity and Quality of Life

There is a complex interrelationship between dignity, autonomy and personal identity. The physical environment can influence the person’s sense of self-control even at the end of life. These issues were also discussed in the February palliAGED Insight article on Living well until death. There is an evidence overview and practice resources in dignity and quality of life.

Diversity

Australia is a diverse nation with different religious, spirituality, sexuality, culture, and socio-economic backgrounds and personal experiences. Holistic palliative and end-of-life care embraces the physical, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual and cultural dimensions of human life and respects diversity and individual needs. Complaints and feedback from all older Australians needs to be facilitated and respected. The Specific Needs pages provide information about different groups and this can be used to consider how feedback and complaints can be used to ensure equitable access and outcomes and embrace diverse characteristics and life experiences.

ELDAC Residential Aged Care Toolkit

The Support Systems and Quality Improvement pages in the Organisational Support section of this toolkit has materials on policies and procedures that support a positive culture around end of life for older people.

Page created 06 April 2020

Read some of our Palliative Perspectives blogs related to aged care and end of life:

The importance of communication in palliative care

Jan McGregor, Director at Aged Care Complaints Commissioner’s Clinical Unit, discusses what are the most difficult complaints to resolve between aged care services families, and the importance of communication in palliative care.

Appreciating diversity at the end of life

Dr Georgia Rowley discusses the importance of understanding specific considerations when caring for older diverse Australians in an end of life context, and how ELDAC resources can help.

Where is the older LGBT community?

Claire Allen, National Program Manager of Pride of Health + Wellbeing discusses why older Australians who identify as LGBT are not a visible part of the community and ideas for aged care services to welcome and support them.

 

Australia must improve palliative care for people with dementia.

The Dementia Australia Policy Team discusses their discussion paper on what Australia needs to do to improve palliative care services for people living with dementia.

Quality improvement - what now?

Professor Jennifer Tieman and Dr Katrina Erny-Albrecht from CareSearch discusses different QI approaches and the importance of evaluating these approaches to improve quality care.

 

End of Life Care, evidence-based tip sheets for all aged care staff

Nigel McGothigan from LASA discusses complexities of the Aged Care Industry and the importance of resources such as the palliAGED Practice Tip Sheets for aged care workers.