This page provides answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). If you’re unable to find the answer to your question here please send us an email or leave a comment below.
- 1 Questions
- 2 Answers
- 2.1 I have a concern – what do I do?
- 2.2 Who can make a complaint?
- 2.3 If my complaint concerns someone else, should I tell them?
- 2.4 Why should I raise a concern?
- 2.5 What are your rights?
- 2.6 If I have a concern, should I talk to the aged care provider?
- 2.7 I want to raise a concern but I’m afraid. What are my options?
- 2.8 What is advocacy?
- 2.9 How can advocacy help me?
- 2.10 How can I ask for an advocate to help me?
- 2.11 What types of services are covered by the Scheme?
- 2.12 What complaints can the Scheme assist with?
- 2.13 What concerns can’t the Scheme assist with?
- 2.14 How do you contact the Scheme to raise a concern?
- 2.15 What if you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment?
- 2.16 What happens when I first contact the Scheme?
- 2.17 What happens after I lodge a complaint?
- 2.18 How is a complaint resolved?
- 2.19 Can I supply photos as evidence?
- 2.20 What outcomes can be achieved?
- 2.21 How can I provide feedback about the Scheme or the person I was dealing with?
- 2.22 Can I apply for a review of a decision or the process?
- 2.23 What is the Aged Care Commissioner’s role?
- 2.24 How can I contact the Aged Care Commissioner?
- 2.25 How do I order and download printed resources?
- 2.26 Can I get translated information about the Scheme?
- I have a concern – what do I do?
- Who can make a complaint?
- If my complaint concerns someone else, should I tell them?
- Why should I raise a concern?
- What are your rights?
- If I have a concern, should I talk to the aged care provider?
- I want to raise a concern but I’m afraid. What are my options?
- What is advocacy?
- How can advocacy help me?
- How can I ask for an advocate to help me?
- What types of services are covered by the Scheme?
- What complaints can the Scheme assist with?
- What concerns can’t the Scheme assist with?
- How do you contact the Scheme to raise a concern?
- What if you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment?
- What happens when I first contact the Scheme?
- What happens after I lodge a complaint?
- How is a complaint resolved?
- Can I supply photos as evidence?
- What outcomes can be achieved?
- How can I provide feedback about the Scheme or the person I was dealing with?
- Can I apply for a review of a decision or the process?
- What is the Aged Care Commissioner’s role?
- How can I contact the Aged Care Commissioner?
- How do I order and download printed resources?
- Can I get translated information about the Scheme?
I have a concern – what do I do?
Some initial research can help you decide who you should contact to resolve your concern. Here are some ideas:
- The ‘Age Page’ in the White Pages has a list of contacts that may be able to help you
- You can talk to the aged care provider or a member of the care staff
- An advocacy service may be able to help you
- If your concern is about an Australian Government subsidised residential care, Home Care Package, or a HACC service, we may be able to help.
All service providers are required to have their own complaint management system. We encourage you to try to raise your concern with the service provider before contacting us. Ask the service provider how they can address your complaint. You can arrange to have an advocate with you to support you at this meeting.
- you don’t want to discuss your concern with the service provider
- the service provider is unable to resolve your complaint
- you think we can help you with your complaint or
- you would like information about your options
then call us on 1800 550 552. Go to the Raise a concern page for more information.
Who can make a complaint?
Anyone can make a complaint, including:
- care recipients
- partners, including same-sex partners
- family members
- aged care staff
- health and medical professionals
If my complaint concerns someone else, should I tell them?
Yes. If you are raising a concern on behalf of someone else, make sure the person (or his or her representative) knows about it. The care recipient has a right to know and a right to be involved.
Why should I raise a concern?
Complaints are important because they help to improve the quality of Australia’s aged care services. Speaking out is important and it does not mean you are being difficult.
Complaints can help aged care providers assess and improve the quality of care and services they offer, so one complaint can help other people too.
If you have a concern about the care you or someone else is receiving, it is important that you raise your concern with the service provider in the first instance. If this is not an option, or you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can contact the Aged Care Complaints Scheme (the Scheme).
What are your rights?
You have the right to complain and take steps to sort out any problems.
You also have the right to:
- complain without fear of being punished
- personal privacy
- be involved in decisions that affect you
- be treated with dignity and respect
- be free from discrimination
- good quality care that meets your needs
- full and effective use of your personal, civil, legal and consumers rights and
- advocacy support.
If you want to learn more about your rights you can read the Charter of Residents Rights and Responsibilities and the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for Home Care.
If I have a concern, should I talk to the aged care provider?
We encourage you to try to raise your concern with the aged care provider, because resolution at the local level can achieve a fast and sustainable outcome. You can arrange for an advocate to support you if you don’t feel comfortable raising a concern on your own.
Complaints give service providers the opportunity to improve the quality of the services they provide to you or your loved one. All service providers must have a complaints process in place and must let care recipients and their representatives know how to access it.
If you don’t want to discuss your concern with the service provider or are unable to resolve your complaint with them, you can contact the Scheme.
I want to raise a concern but I’m afraid. What are my options?
Aged care services should provide an environment where you feel safe and supported to raise a concern. However, it is not always easy to raise a concern.
If you don’t feel able to raise your concern with the service provider, you can submit your complaint to the Scheme. It is best to submit your complaint openly; that is, provide your name and contact details. However, you have the right to complain anonymously or confidentially if you wish.
If you choose to remain confidential, your identity and contact details will be known to the Scheme but will not be passed on to the aged care provider without your agreement. You will be kept informed about the progress of your complaint, and you will be able to provide more information or evidence if required.
If you remain anonymous, your identity and contact details will not be known to the Scheme or the provider. The Scheme won’t be able to keep you informed about your complaint’s progress or the outcome. You also won’t be able to provide further information or evidence, and you won’t have review rights.
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is defined as ‘the process of standing alongside an individual who is disadvantaged and speaking out on their behalf in a way that represents the best interests of that person.’
How can advocacy help me?
An advocate can:
- support you in making decisions that affect your quality of life
- provide you with information about your rights and responsibilities, and discuss your options for taking action
- support you when you raise an issue with us or the service provider
- support you at any stage of the complaints process.
They will always seek your permission before taking action.
How can I ask for an advocate to help me?
You can contact the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600 or go to their website. With your permission, we can phone an advocacy agency on your behalf to explain your concerns and arrange for the advocacy agency to contact you. Advocacy is a free service provided by the Australian Government.
What types of services are covered by the Scheme?
We can assist with concerns about the following Australian Government-subsidised aged care services:
- residential aged care
- Commonwealth funded HACC
- Home Care Packages.
What complaints can the Scheme assist with?
We can assist with complaints relating to service providers’ responsibilities under the Aged Care Act 1997 and their obligations under their funding agreement with the Australian Government (for HACC services).
Examples of concerns we can assist with include:
- health and personal care (for example infection control, personal hygiene)
- communication (for example information and internal complaints processes)
- personnel (for example conduct and training)
- physical environment (for example safety, security, cleaning and call bells)
- financial matters
- facility equipment
- activities, choice and comfort.
What concerns can’t the Scheme assist with?
We are unable to:
- assist with complaints about an aged care service that isn’t subsidised by the Australian Government
- assist with concerns that are not related to a service provider’s responsibilities under the Aged Care Act 1997
- assist with concerns that are not covered in Commonwealth HACC providers’ responsibilities under their funding agreements with the Australian Government
- say who should make financial, legal or health decisions on behalf of a care recipient
- comment on industrial matters such as wages or employment conditions
- provide legal advice
- ask service providers to terminate someone’s employment
- investigate the cause of death (this is the role of the coroner)
- determine whether or not a specific event occurred (especially if we receive conflicting accounts of the event)
- provide clinical advice about what treatment a person should be receiving.
We can refer complaints that fall outside of our scope to other organisations such as the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, professional registration boards or other complaints bodies. If you lodge a complaint with us and we can’t help you, we will try to identify who may be able to help you.
How do you contact the Scheme to raise a concern?
There are a number of different ways you can contact the Scheme to raise a concern, visit the Raise a Concern page to learn more.
What if you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment?
The Scheme can help you through the National Relay Service.
For their Telephone Typewriter (TTY) service call 1800 555 677 and ask for 1800 550 552.Speak and Listen users can phone 1300 555 727.
Internet Relay users should go to iprelay.com.au and enter 1800 550 552.
What happens when I first contact the Scheme?
Unless you have lodged an anonymous complaint, we will gather as much information as possible about your concern. This helps us to understand all the issues and your expectations. We will provide information about how the Scheme works and the options for resolving your concern.
We will assess the complaint individually. We will look at safety, dignity and choice of the care recipient; the quality of care and services being delivered; and the service provider’s responsiveness to the complaint. We will then decide how quickly to start resolving your complaint and how it can best be resolved.
Please provide as much information as you can, as early as you can, so we understand all the issues. Be specific and tell us what outcome you would like to see.
What happens after I lodge a complaint?
We can support you to resolve your concern directly with the service provider. If that approach is not possible, we can assist with your concern. If so, we will write to you and the service provider to confirm the issues that we will look at.
We will work with you and the service provider to resolve your concern as quickly as possible. We will consult you regularly throughout the process. We will write to you and the service provider at the end to let you know the outcome and any required actions.
How is a complaint resolved?
We can use a range of different tools and techniques to help people to resolve their concerns, and we will talk to you about the different approaches. Our focus is on reaching the best outcome for the care recipient, as quickly as possible. Difficult or more formal resolution processes may take longer.
The best result can be achieved when:
- all parties work cooperatively
- discussions are open
- information is provided in a timely way.
We can use one or more of the following approaches to resolve the issues in a concern.
Service provider resolution: We can ask the service provider to examine the concern within a set timeframe. We encourage concerns to be resolved directly between the complainant and the service provider as this can achieve a faster and more sustainable resolution.
Conciliation: We can help the complainant and service provider to discuss the issues and reach an agreement that resolves the concern. This may involve a few phone calls, informal discussions and/or formal meetings. The Scheme documents the process and provides written feedback to the care recipient and service provider.
The Scheme can:
- make a call to the service provider on your behalf to discuss the issue
- help you clarify the issues
- advise you and the service provider of your rights and responsibilities
- phone an advocacy agency on your behalf.
Investigation: We can investigate an issue. Investigations can be simple, for example gathering information and discussing the issues with both parties; or they can be more complex, involving visits to the service, analysing records and conducting interviews.
Feedback is provided to everyone throughout the investigation, unless you remain anonymous. The Scheme will write to both parties to advise the outcome of the investigation.
Mediation: If we are unable to achieve a suitable outcome, we may suggest that the complainant and service provider work with a mediator. Mediation does have a cost which both parties would need to discuss.
Can I supply photos as evidence?
We can review relevant information that the complainant and service provider give to us, such as correspondence, documents, policies, nursing files and photographs. We can only accept photos as evidence if the person in the photograph provides their consent.
What outcomes can be achieved?
When the complaint is finalised, we will send both parties a letter that outlines the issues, process, information used to come to our decision, and the outcome.
We may be able to achieve any of the following outcomes:
Agreement: The complainant and the service provider both agree that the concerns have been addressed and the issues resolved. We provide written confirmation of this to both parties.
Addressed: We are satisfied that the service provider has addressed the issue. We provide written confirmation of this outcome to both parties.
Direction issued: Where we believe the service provider is not meeting their responsibilities under the Act, we can issue a Direction. A Direction requires the provider to demonstrate how they have met or will
meet their responsibilities. Refer to the post on Directions for more information.
Referred for compliance action: We can refer a matter to the Department of Social Services* compliance area for compliance action if we are concerned the service provider has not complied with, or is not complying with, its responsibilities under Parts 4.1 to 4.3 of the Aged Care Act 1997. This option is not available for complaints about Commonwealth HACC services.
* Responsibility for administration of the Aged Care Act 1997 transferred to the Minister for Social Services on 18 September 2013. Services for older people, including their carers, are now dealt with by the Department of Social Services. Aged care program staff dealing with aged care matters before these changes continue to do so in the newly created Department of Social Services.
No further action: We will not take further action if the matter is subject to legal proceedings or a coronial inquiry, or if the person receiving care does not want the complaint to be examined.
After a complaint resolution process, we can arrange a discussion between the complainant and the service provider to help foster a positive, ongoing relationship.
How can I provide feedback about the Scheme or the person I was dealing with?
At any stage of the process, you can provide feedback –good or bad. Please call us on 1800 550 552 and ask to speak to the complaints manager in your state or territory.
When your complaint has been finalised, you will receive a satisfaction survey. We encourage you to complete it so we can identify what we did well and how we can improve. Please complete this form and send it back to us in the enclosed pre-paid envelope.
You may also use this website to provide feedback by leaving a question or comment below posts.
Can I apply for a review of a decision or the process?
Yes. We encourage you to contact us if you are not satisfied at any stage of the complaint or would like to provide feedback. Call 1800 550 552 and ask to speak to the complaints manager in your state or territory.
When the Scheme has finished looking at your complaint you will usually have review rights if you are not satisfied with the outcome. A request for review can only be lodged after a complaint process has been finished and must be done within 28 days of receiving our decision letter. Your request must state the reasons why you are asking us to reconsider the decision.
You can ask the Aged Care Commissioner to examine our process for handling your complaint or examine our decision.
If your complaint relates to a Commonwealth HACC service the Commissioner may not review it.
Refer to the review rights post for more information.
What is the Aged Care Commissioner’s role?
Complainants and service providers can seek an independent review of the Scheme’s decisions and complaints processes through the Aged Care Commissioner (the Commissioner).
From 1 August 2013, amendments to the Complaints Principles 2011 have strengthened the independence of the Aged Care Commissioner. The Commissioner is now able to direct the Scheme to undertake a new resolution process, taking into account the Commissioner’s views.
If you are not satisfied with the Scheme’s decision, you can ask the Commissioner to review it. Your request must be made within 28 days of receiving the Scheme’s decision letter and you must state the reasons why you are seeking a review.
You can also ask the Commissioner to look at the Scheme’s complaints process (within 12 months of when your concerns about the process arose). However, such a review cannot re-open or change the outcome of your complaint.
How can I contact the Aged Care Commissioner?
Phone: 1800 500 294 (a free call from fixed lines; calls from mobiles may be charged)
Website: www.agedcarecommissioner.gov.au (including an online complaint form)
Aged Care Commissioner
Locked Bag 3
Collins Street East VICTORIA 8003
9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday
Level 4, 12-20 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
How do I order and download printed resources?
There is a brochure, booklet, poster, DVD and a range of factsheets available. You can view, download and order these using our online order form. You may also order them from My Aged Care by phoning 1800 200 422.
Can I get translated information about the Scheme?
Brochures and a consumer DVD on the Scheme have been translated into 17 languages other than English:
Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Macedonian, Maltese, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Tagalog, Turkish and Vietnamese.
You can order these resources using our online order form.
If you need an interpreter you can phone the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450 and ask for 1800 550 552. This is a free service.