Focus on aged care

Marie Bennett
Marie Bennett
Some Otago home-based care agencies do not investigate client complaints using a third party, suggesting a top-level recommendation for a standardised complaints system was warranted, Age Concern Otago social worker Marie Bennett says.

The auditor-general this week released a performance audit report of home-based support services which said while services generally appeared to be adequate, a lack of information made the situation unclear.

The report recommended DHBs worked with the sector to develop a complaints service that older people felt confident using.

When contacted, Mrs Bennett said some agencies chose to deal with issues in-house, rather than calling in a third party, and this made the process less transparent.

"Sometimes it's actually easier when it's an outside person dealing [with an issue] and [providers are] funded by the DHB so, ... in my mind, the DHB should know what's going on."

An open system encouraged a better outcome for all concerned, including carers sometimes wrongly accused of theft.

"It would be an open system. It's not about any kind of witch-hunt. I'm all for communication and keeping people in the picture."

The most common complaint Mrs Bennett heard was clients asked to sign time sheets indicating the carer spent longer at the home than they actually did. Some were told time spent at the home did not matter as long as the carer completed their work, which was unacceptable.

Another issue was clients unwilling to speak up if they did not get on with their carer.

Mrs Bennett emphasised the vast majority of carers did an excellent job and did more work than they were paid for. Some care agencies were more open than others in resolving complaints.

Southern DHB funding and finance general manager Robert Mackway-Jones agreed with the report's recommendation.

"I am interested in working collaboratively to set up a system and this discussion will need to be taken up by the networks both within the South Island and nationally."

The board planned to implement recommendations of a report commissioned from Auckland University.



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