Meeting Residents’ Expectations in Aged Care Homes


One of the biggest challenges for providers of Aged Care Facilities is meeting the expectations of residents and their families. From my perspective, as an Aged Care Placement Consultant, I perceive that many families expect their loved ones to receive one on one attention 24/7.  Of course, this is unrealistic as sometimes the other residents will need the attention of the staff. This can’t be helped in accommodation where there are a number of residents with varying levels of care needs to be met.

Clients always ask me about staff ratios, which has become a hot topic in aged care. This is a difficult question to answer since the introduction of Ageing In Place, because most Aged Care Homes now have a mixture of high and low needs and staff numbers are rostered according to care needs and work load at any given time. The most helpful question to ask of an Aged Care Facility is the availability of Registered Nurses on each shift, including overnight, as well as the availability of Doctors on weekends and overnight.
The quality of food is the other big issue in Aged Care Homes and I understand why it’s so important. Apart from the nutritional value, food plays a major role in the daily life of a resident. The anticipation of meals is an important focus and having a good feed leaves them satisfied. Everyone enters a home anticipating the food will be up to standard and palatable; some are disappointed at the quality, while others find the meals delicious.

Earlier in my career when I worked in Aged Care Facilities I was amused that it was often the people who had lived alone surviving on toast or crumpets who complained the most about the food. I would hear the complaints the Chef received and they were often contradictory, some thought the soup too hot, some too cold, some found the gravy too thick, some too thin. I realised how difficult it was to deliver meals for such a large and diverse population, also taking into account medical conditions, and still please everyone. I can assure you there are many residents who do enjoy their food.

In my experience, the people who choose to enter Residential Aged Care and embrace their new lifestyle thrive and are mostly content. And, like anything else, those who look for the bad will always find it and will probably never be happy.

Complaints Resolution in The Aged Care Sector

Rae Lamb Aged Care Complaints Commissioner

On April 27th the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner held an event called ‘Complaints Matter’ at the Adelaide Convention Centre. It was interesting to read an interview the day before in the Sydney Morning Herald with the Commissioner, Rae Lamb, in which she challenged the aged care sector to detail the number and types of complaints they received and how they were resolved, both on their websites and at actual facilities.

The aim of the ‘Complaints Matter’ event was for both aged care consumers and service providers to walk away with an understanding of why complaints do matter. The commissioner wanted the event to highlight the processes of a good complaint and provide best practice tips for resolving complaints to the satisfaction of everyone involved. The Presenters at the event were Professor Ron Paterson, former NZ Parliamentary Ombudsman and Health Disability Commissioner, and Maggie Beer of the Maggie Beer Foundation.

In her interview with the SMH the Commissioner said “At the moment, we are in the environment where people are being given a lot more control over their care, but to make good choices, people need more information.”  She explained that the aged care sector is being shaken up right now with the consolidation of a cottage industry by larger, often for-profit providers which means that “relationships between providers and consumers are changing and power balances are changing. That is why people need to get more information. It is about ensuring people are well informed and able to make choices.” As an Aged Care Placement Consultant I assess the quality of aged care facilities on behalf of my clients. Being aware of complaints at the facility and how they are resolved is most important in assessing the culture of the aged care facility being examined and how well my clients will be cared for.