Complaints against Australian government funded aged care services can be made to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner (Complaints Commissioner). Previously, responsibility for the handling of complaints about aged care services was overseen by the Aged Care Complaints Scheme.
Aged care service providers subsidised by the Australian Government must:
- be accredited by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency; and
- meet the responsibilities and standards of care set out in the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth).
Australian funded programmes that fall within the Complaints Commissioner’s jurisdiction include:
- residential aged care services, including permanent care and respite care;
- Home Care Packages delivered on a Consumer Directed Care basis;
- flexible care where a person is receiving ‘residential care’ or ‘home care’ – this includes services provided through transition care, innovative care or multi-purpose services;
- the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP);
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Programme (NATSIFACP).
The Complaints Commissioner can inform whether or not a particular provider is funded by the Australian government.
Consumers (or their representatives) are encouraged to attempt to raise any concerns with the aged care service provider in the first instance. If they are unable to do this or the provider is unable to resolve their concern, they should then contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner on 1800 550 552 or submit a complaint online. Complaints may be open, confidential or anonymous and all complaints are taken seriously.
Complaints officers can consider complaints relating to providers’ responsibilities under the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) or a service provider’s responsibilities under an aged care grant agreement with the Australian government. Complaints may relate to care generally, communication, choice of activities, catering, accommodation and facilities or discrimination.
Complaints may be resolved using one or more of the following methods:
- the provider's processes for complaint resolution
Possible outcomes may include:
- the circumstances giving rise to the complaint are addressed;
- the Complaints Commissioner issues a direction to the provider to demonstrate how they will meet their responsibilities;
- the Complaints Commissioner refers the complaint to another agency, such as the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency or the Department of Health, for action;
- no further action (this may occur if, for example, the circumstances are the subject of other legal proceedings).
If a consumer (or their representative) is not satisfied with the outcome of their complaint, they may request a review, stating the reasons for the request, within 42 days of receiving the decision letter from the Complaints Commissioner.
If a consumer (or their representative) is not satisfied with the way their complaint or review has been handled by the Complaints Commissioner, they may wish to raise this with the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
Complaints are managed in accordance with the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner’s Guidelines. For more information, see the FAQs and Resources pages of the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner’s website.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.