What do I do if I suspect mum or dad is not being treated well in an aged care home?

What do you do if you suspect your loved one is not being treated well in an aged care home? Or if you need to make a complaint? What is the correct process and how do you ensure your voice will be heard?

In her latest blog post, aged care expert and My Care Path CEO Dana Sawyer breaks down what to do if you need to make a complaint about an aged care home, how to make sure your concerns are resolved and how to move your loved one out of a home if necessary.

When you place a loved one into aged care, likely to be either mum or dad, it’s normal to find yourself experiencing a role reversal of sorts. Suddenly you’re thinking and worrying about your parent as they likely worried about you when you were young.

If your mum or dad is currently living in an aged care home, you will have chosen the home you felt was best for them at the time.

However, what do you do if you suspect or worry that your parent isn’t being treated well?

It’s important to remember you’re not powerless and there are many options to help you work through any issues.

Step 1 – Trust Your Instincts

It’s natural to have feelings of guilt or doubt when you place your parent in aged care. However, it’s important to be able to differentiate between natural worrying about your mum or dad, or when there is a real cause for concern.

The key to finding out if there is likely a problem, is to monitor your parents’ behaviour. Has their behaviour and demeanour changed in any way? Do they appear to be happy and content in their new home?

Or have you noticed they have changed significantly, both mentally and physically? Do they seem distressed?

If there is a dramatic shift in behaviour, you should listen to your instinct that something is not right.

Step 2 – Ask to speak with the facility manager

Make a note of any concerns you have about Mum or Dad and ask for a meeting with the facility manager. Speak with him/her about your concerns and what you have noticed.

If you have a log book recording particularly incidences, such as notes on when you noticed a change in your parents’ demeanour, physical evidence of sores or bruises that concern you, then this will help the facility manager to develop an action plan to find out why this problem is occurring.

During this meeting, make sure to ask the facility manager what their complaint process is, as every aged care home may have a different process.

Step 3 – Develop a support network, including a GP and an aged care consultant

While you are working with the facility manager and the aged care home, build a support network around you including your parents’ GP and consider engaging an aged care consultant to advocate for you on your behalf.  

An aged care consultant can help work with the aged care home to deal with the complaint for you, as well as guide you through the process and provide an action plan on how to move your loved one out of the home if needed.

Step 4 – Develop an action plan to move to a different aged care home

It’s important to remember that aged care is voluntary and your loved one cannot be forced to stay in an aged care home that isn’t suitable for them or treats them poorly.  

There is no contract requiring a resident to stay in aged care.  

If you feel your complaint is severe enough that your loved one can no longer stay there and you’re not getting anywhere dealing with the home directly, start researching alternative aged care homes and providers.

Make sure to take into consideration your parents’ specific care needs and any practicalities such as location and current vacancies.

An aged care consultant can do this research for you and provide you with a short list of suitable alternative facilities.

Step 5 – Take your complaint further

If you feel you are not making progress by dealing directly with the aged care facility manager, then you can make a complaint to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission either online or by phoning 1800 951 822.

You do not need to have made a complaint with the facility manager first to contact the commission, and you can also make a complaint anonymously.

Need more help? Phone one of the My Care Path consultants on 1300 755 702 or email support@mycarepath.com.au who can help you navigate the aged care process.