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“Just Ask!”

11 May 2017

That is the message from Rae Lamb, the aged-care complaints commissioner, to people who are trying to find their way in residential aged care.

With the recent consumer-directed care reforms, and the power balance between consumers and providers changing, the commissioner calls for more transparency in the sector.

Ms Lamb encourages consumers to demand more information from providers and come forward with their complaints. She urges providers to be more transparent about how they handle the complaints.

"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," she tells the Sydney Morning Herald.

While the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) receives 4500 complaints a year and the number is increasing, the aged-care watchdog fears that many of them never reach her office. Most complaints come from family members and involve concerns about issues such as the clarity of financial statements.

Brett Holmes, the General Secretary of the NSW Nurses and Widwives’ Association (NSWNMA), tells the ABC 702 that they know from their “members that they are struggling to provide the care that is needed by residents”. One measure taken to help guide consumers, families, and carers is the “10 Questions to Ask” series published by NSWNMA in partnership with the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI) and other organisations.

In launching the series in March, Brett Holmes stressed the importance of recognising the needs of culturally diverse communities and individuals and ensuring that their cultural needs are met in residential aged care services so that they can be properly cared for. 

Access the "10 Questions to Ask" leaflets!