Aged care providers should air ‘dirty laundry’ – get ready for intense media attention

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Fairfax Media is using comments by the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner as a base for ‘an investigation into the aged care sector’.

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax followed a long article on the Commissioner with the statement ‘Fairfax Media is beginning an investigation of the aged-care sector. Those who want to tell their story should contact Michael Bachelard (mbachelard@faifaxmedia.com.au ) or Nick McKenzie (nmckenzie@fairfaxmedia.com.au)’.

The Commissioner, Rae Lamb, is quoted as saying providers should list the number and types of complaints they received and how they were resolved, both on their websites and at actual facilities to allow consumers to make more informed choices.

She said privacy and legislative restrictions limited how much she can reveal about poor practices at aged care facilities.

“I’m essentially issuing a challenge to the sector”, she says. “It is time to be proactive and bring these things into the sunlight.”

“At the moment, we are in the environment where people are being given a lot more control over their care, but to make good choices, people need more information.”

The Commission receive 4,500 complaints a year – a small number compared to the 1.3M people receiving care.

But Ms Lamb believes many complaints never reach her office. She also said they were receiving “more and more complaints” about home care.

“My message to consumers is ‘just ask!’ Ask them about complaints. If a service will not answer the question, that tells you about the culture of the service.”

Fairfax at times teams up with TV programs such as the ABC’s Four Corners, extending the audience of stories.

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