With the release of the interim report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, there as been reiteration of the need to put older people first and give them a voice in the future improvement of aged care services in Australia.
“Providing people with the confidence, systems and tools to share their opinions is key to improving the aged care experience for senior Australians,” says Lauren Todorovic, Founder and CEO CarePage.
“Senior Australians want to be able to provide feedback on their care and support, and people looking for aged care services are seeking the opinions of people with lived experience to support them to make decisions on the best aged care services for themselves or a loved one,” says Ms Todorovic.
The interim report lists one of the top systematic issues within the aged care system as ‘minimises the voices of people receiving care and their loved ones.’ Furthermore, the report acknowledges that many people are unwilling to speak up or complain about their aged care services because it may change the way they treated, and when people do complain they find that the process is slow and difficult.
Ms Todorovic says that from her experience working closely with senior Australians and their family members, she has found that one of the key barriers to speaking up and providing honest feedback is the fear of retribution.
“While some people are happy to give feedback on aged care services and providers publicly, there are many others who fear retribution.
“Speaking with senior Australians, people told us that what they wanted was a way to confidently, and anonymously if they choose, deliver feedback directly to management.
“That is why we developed CarePage, to give them a trusted platform to provide real-time feedback about the quality of care and service in their home,” says Ms Todorovic.
While the interim report cites the lack of transparency, reporting and accountability among aged care providers as a key issue, Ms Todorovic notes that the dial is shifting in the aged care sector.
“Over the last year we have seen a real shift in the openness of aged care providers and their willingness to regularly engage with consumers to improve services,” she says.
“While there are, as demonstrated clearly in the many submissions to the royal commission, fundamental issues with the delivery of quality of aged care, there are a number of providers who are really leading the way to put older people first. They are investing in understanding what matters to residents and making improvements where they need to.
“These providers are also looking for ways to share and showcase how they are performing, and how to be more transparent.”
This need for transparency and the relationship with the availability of information for those seeking aged services is a significant theme that arose throughout previous aged care enquires and evidence given to the Royal Commission. And the interim report references the findings of these reports, including those of the 2017 Carnell-Paterson report that stated ‘the absence of reliable, comparable information about quality in residential care is a striking feature of the current system.’
Ms Todorovic said that she is pleased to see the need for better information on aged care services reiterated in the interim report.
“Decisions about aged care are often made at a time of high emotion, and simple clear comparable information on aged care services is a necessity to support people to make informed decisions about the best aged care services and providers for themselves or a loved one.
“However it’s important to note that as well as clinical indicators of quality, people are looking for information on how aged care services impact their quality of life.
“That is why we developed and recently launched the Happy Life Index.
“Working with over 1,000 older Australian’s we identified a number of quality of life and experience indicators that really matter to people in aged care. And the Happy Life Index supports providers to measure and report on these to support increased transparency and consumer choice within aged care,” says Ms Todorovic.
CarePage welcomes the detailed insight into the fundamental issues within the aged care system that the royal commission interim report has identified. We hope that it gives the sector the imperative to come together to find and implement positive solutions that deliver the aged care experience that older Australians deserve.