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.

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