In 2009, the Australian Government engaged Associate Professor Merrilyn Walton to independently review the operation of the Complaints Investigation Scheme and identify areas of improvement to ensure the Scheme achieves best practice aged care complaints management practices. Members of the public and key stakeholders were invited to make submissions to the review. One hundred and nineteen submissions were received and 20 face-to-face consultations were conducted.
In April 2010, the Government released the results of Associate Professor Walton’s review. Her report, Review of the Aged Care Complaints Investigation Scheme (called the Walton Review), made a range of recommendations to improve the operation, timeliness and transparency of the Scheme. Associate Professor Walton’s key recommendations included incorporating a broader range of alternative resolution processes into the Scheme to support the early resolution of complaints without investigation, and using a risk assessment framework to assess and prioritise complaints.
In response, the Australian Government committed $50.6 million over four years to improve the Scheme’s capacity to respond to complaints about Australian Government subsidised aged care services. In 2011, the Complaints Investigation Scheme was renamed the Aged Care Complaints Scheme (the Scheme) to reflect greater flexibility in resolving concerns. Reforms to the Scheme will be delivered through to 2013–14.
This program of work aims to build a responsive and customer focused aged care complaints system that:
- affords natural justice to all parties
- focuses on clear and timely communication
- seeks to help consumers and service providers understand their rights and responsibilities, the Scheme and options to resolve concerns.
The Australian Government has improved the Scheme’s capacity to respond to complaints about aged care services subsidised by the Australian Government.
As a result, the Scheme now resolves concerns using a new complaints framework, underpinned by the new legislation; the Complaints Principles 2011 (the Principles). The improved complaints framework enables the Scheme to move away from an investigative approach to a resolution focus and provides:
- a greater focus on complaint resolution and protecting aged care recipients;
- several options to resolve complaints;
- a more robust risk assessment of individual complaints, to manage a complaint in the most appropriate way; and
- regular communication and consultation as part of the resolution process.
Complaints are now examined using new Complaints Guidelines. This means the Scheme is able to resolve concerns using one or more approaches including early resolution, service provider resolution, conciliation, mediation and investigation.
From 1 July 2012, the Commonwealth will fund basic community care services in all states and territories, except Western Australia and Victoria. This covers people aged 65 and over and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 and over.
Under the new funding arrangement people may also contact the Scheme if they have a concern about a Commonwealth HACC service. The process for the Scheme resolving HACC complaints draws on the Scheme’s current approach, which takes a more collaborative approach to resolving concerns and includes more options for resolving complaints.
A range of aged care consumer and industry stakeholders contributed to the improved complaints management framework. Many stakeholders have also helped to shape and improve information for consumers, and worked with the Scheme on other reform activities. We will continue to work with stakeholders throughout the reform program.
In February 2011, the Department of Health and Ageing released a discussion paper on the proposed complaints management framework.
Forty-one submissions were received from a range of stakeholders, including approved providers, consumer advocacy services, unions and peak industry bodies, the Aged Care Commissioner (ACC) and other key stakeholders.
A fact sheet is available that outlines some of the key reforms that will deliver significant benefits for care recipients and their representatives and service providers.
You can view, download or order booklets, brochures, fact sheets and posters about the improved Scheme through our online order form.
These publications can help you understand how the Scheme works and how it can assist you or someone you know with concerns about the quality of care being provided by an Australian Government subsidised aged care service. The brochure and poster are also available in languages other than English.
The department has delivered a number of presentations to the aged care sector about the new complaints management framework and other topics related to complaints.
Progress on implementing reforms
This website will provide continuous updates on how implementation of improvements is tracking. Please check back regularly. To make it easier, save this site as one of your ‘Favourites’. To be the first to know when new information becomes available, please subscribe by entering your email address into the ‘Subscribe to updates’ panel on the right hand side of this page.
National Health Reform
The reforms to the Aged Care Complaints Scheme are part of the Australian Government’s broader national health reform agenda, which will deliver better health outcomes for Australians. Engagement and communication with stakeholders will continue throughout these reforms.
Register on www.yourhealth.gov.au to receive regular updates on the implementation of national health reform. This website contains up to date reform information including media releases, announcements of public consultation sessions, and advice on the release of discussion papers.