Residential care

Step 7: If things go wrong

While good planning can help to make better choices and ensure you understand your obligations and rights, sometimes things just don’t go to plan. Or disputes can arise.

If the problem or complaint is in relation to the services or actions from the residential care provider, your best first step is to speak to the provider and see if it can be resolved.

If you need help to raise the issue or this does not result in a satisfactory outcome, the information below can direct you on where to get some support or extra help.

Tips for how to resolve problems

I am concerned about my care or services provided

Often issues can be resolved by raising your concerns with your care provider. Talk to the staff or management. Your provider will have a complaints resolution process, so ask for a copy so you can understand how to best approach this complaint. If you are uncomfortable with raising the issue on your own you may ask a friend or family member to be there with you. Click here for some tips on how to make an effective complaint.

I can’t resolve an issue with my care provider

If you have been unable to satisfactorily resolve your issue with the provider you may wish to contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and lodge a complaint with them. This can be done as an open, confidential or anonymous complaint depending on what sort of resolution you are looking for. This is a free service. Click here for more information and to contact the Commission.

I am not comfortable raising a complaint

It can be difficult to raise a complaint and you might not be confident doing this on your own. Ask a friend or family member if they can be there with you for help or support. Or you might seek the support of an advocacy service. An advocate can help you with information to understand your rights and discuss the steps you can take. They can also support you through the complaints service.

If you need this help, you can call the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 1800 700 600 or click here.

I am concerned about elder abuse

Elder abuse is a serious issue and it is equally important to avoid a potential situation as well as to resolve any actual abuse. Abuse can be physical, financial or emotional. Compass is an information site set up by Elder Abuse Action Australia to help deal with elder abuse. Click here for more information.

I am not sure what is quality care

The Quality Standards which define good care, include eight standards covering aspects of your care that contributes to your safety, health and well-being. ​If you are receiving good care you should be well cared for by people who know their jobs, with staff who are friendly, respectful and respond to your needs. The care service should be well-run and you will have people to talk to about the things that matter to you. More information

I am not happy with the advice given by a financial planner

It is important that you sought advice from a licensed financial planner who is registered on the ASIC Financial Planner Register as advice is regulated under Government legislation and competency and education standards apply. These planners also need to have an internal dispute resolution process, be members of an external dispute resolution service and have Professional Indemnity insurance to ensure compensation costs can be paid if the planner is found to be negligent.

If you need to raise a complaint ask the planner for a copy of their Dispute Resolution process and follow those steps. This will start by giving the planner, or the company they are licensed through, the chance to resolve the issue for you. If this is not satisfactory, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority – click here for information.

I feel that my family are not acting in my interests

Changes arising from older age challenges can be emotional and confronting for both you and your family. While it is important that your voice is heard and your wishes and needs are at the centre of the decisions, it is likely that other family members will also be impacted and be dealing with their own emotions and perceptions. This may lead to family disputes.

You might be able to resolve some disputes through open and honest conversations ​with everyone involved. However, sometimes you might need an experienced third-party to help mediate your discussions. Google “elder mediation” to find a service near you.

I am lonely

Family, friendships and companionship are important aspects for us as humans. Isolation and loneliness can be a problem if you are not able to easily go out on your own, or if friends and family do not live close or have busy lives.

If you receive a Home Care Package, live in residential care or are socially isolated, the Community Visitors Scheme may be able to match you with a volunteer who can visit to provide friendship and companionship. For more information and how to access, click here.

If you are living in residential care, you should also talk to the staff about becoming involved in activities.

I am running out of savings and worried about the fees

Making the right decisions and getting financial advice might help to make your money last as long as you need. But sometimes, this is not enough and you might worry about your bank balance diminishing. Speaking to a Centrelink Financial Information Service (FIS) officer or licensed financial planner might be able to alleviate concerns or provide solutions.

You might also be able to qualify for government financial hardship assistance, if you have assets that are not accessible and/or the balance of your savings is very low. You need to meet the relevant criteria and be able to demonstrate that your income is not enough to meet your aged care fees and necessary living expenses. If this applies, the government may approve a reduction in your care fees and pay additional subsidies to your care provider.

Find out more about the Financial Hardship assistance, click here.