Aged Care

Redefining complaints as vital feedback to transform aged care


The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission analysed thousands of aged care complaints to extract invaluable insights for providers to resolve issues, boost care and build trust.

The report aims to empower providers with key learnings about effective complaints handling, fostering a culture of transparency and improved care outcomes.

The report utilises a combination of data, case studies, and guided questions to identify patterns and practices that define good complaint handling. Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson underscores the significance of this information for providers and the individuals under their care.

“Good complaints handling centring on the person receiving care helps aged care providers to meet the fundamental principles of fairness, transparency, inclusiveness and accessibility, and builds a culture of open disclosure,” emphasized Commissioner Anderson. She stressed that effective complaint handling requires visible leadership and commitment at all levels of an organisation.

The report reveals that a substantial number of complaints about residential and home care services were resolved through early resolution, suggesting that meaningful conversations and proactive resolution strategies can be powerful tools. Anderson notes that providers who actively seek and act on feedback are more likely to deliver a positive care experience, a message emphasised by the Complaints Commissioner Louise Macleod.

Since assuming the role in May 2023, Macleod has focused on strengthening the Commission’s handling and reporting of complaints, aligning with recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. She advocates for the rights of individuals using aged care services to feel safe, supported, and empowered to provide feedback and make complaints.

The report underscores the positive impact of effective complaint handling, not only in delivering better care for older individuals but also in making good business sense for providers. It highlights that every complaint presents an opportunity for providers to make improvements and address the unique needs and preferences of those in their care.

The benefits of good complaint handling extend beyond problem resolution:

  • fix problems before they escalate
  • provide better care outcomes for people receiving aged care
  • help providers to understand the people in their care and build positive relationships with them and their families
  • increase staff and consumer satisfaction
  • provide data and insights to help providers continuously improve
  • inform decisions about future service offerings, and
  • enhance a provider’s reputation and strengthen trust in the service.

On the flip side, poor complaint handling can lead to various challenges, including staff disengagement, a negative workplace culture, increased complaints escalated to the Commission, missed improvement opportunities, loss of valuable data and reputational damage.

The report concludes by emphasising the importance of better practice guidance on complaints handling in aged care services. Complaints, viewed as a key source of intelligence, complement the Commission’s regulatory and education activities.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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