2% of aged care complaints involve ‘abuse’ says this week’s Australian Law Reform Commission Discussion Paper – lowest internationally

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While the media irregularly sensationalizes reports of abuse in aged care, the 266-page Australian Law Reform Commission discussion paper just released indicates that Australia has one of the lowest incidences of such abuse across the globe.

The Commission was specifically investigating ‘abuse’. Over 10 months 210 submissions were made.

The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner submitted “in the first six months of 2016, her office received just 113 complaints identifiable with the keyword ‘abuse’, representing 2% of all complaints received by her office in that period”. (Page 202, Clause 11.45).

While 2% is unacceptable, it would appear that Australian aged care workers are amongst the world leaders in genuine care delivery. The Introduction of the Inquiry states:

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that the prevalence rate of elder abuse in high- or middle-income countries ranges from 2% to 14%”. (Page15, Clause 1.1).

The work of care can be physically and emotionally challenging. With 190,000 elderly and frail residents cared for 24/7 and 4.6 million hours of direct care delivered every week, just 113 complaints of ‘abuse’ in six months, while not acceptable, is a strong indication of the dedication of the workforce.