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What Australians are telling us about aged care providers (hint – it’s mostly good)

OPINION PIECE - Along with most of the industry, this week I watched the first of a two-part Four Corners investigation into the aged care industry in Australia, which contained some abhorrent examples of how our most vulnerable in society are being neglected and abused.

Statistics show 51% of aged care stories received online through a new initiative are purely positive (Source: Shutterstock)
Statistics show 51% of aged care stories received online through a new initiative are purely positive (Source: Shutterstock)

While what was presented is clearly not acceptable and what is broken must be fixed, my view is that a large number of aged care providers in Australia actually do a fantastic job. And it’s a view that seems to be shared by the majority of consumers.

However, like any large industry, there are unfortunately outliers and one of the biggest challenges facing the sector is the huge gap between the best and the worst.

We know that consumers of aged care in Australia have a thirst for knowledge. 1.6 million of them come to our AgedCareGuide.com.au website each year looking for information to help navigate the sector.

Late last year, through an in-depth consumer research study, they told us in clear terms that consumer reviews and ratings needed to be readily accessible for the aged care sector, both to enable people to be heard and to help consumers to compare and select providers of care.

From there, we partnered with leading consumer review and rating platform Care Opinion to run a pilot program and have captured 240 stories that have been viewed nearly 110,000 times – and this is what they’ve told us so far:

  • 51% are purely positive with the majority of feedback received was highly complimentary of the staff and service delivered

  • 39% contain one or more issues or concerns, but would not be deemed a complaint. This includes feedback such as; I couldn’t really understand the person on the phone when I called, wait times for services seem to be increasing, staff are different each day so difficult to build a rapport, staff always appear too busy etc.

  • 10% are what we would consider a high-level complaint, which include the sorts of horror stories that were raised on Four Corners

The good news is that, even in the lower category, many providers are committed to making genuine improvements. I was involved in one issue involving a claim of abuse from a resident of a nursing home. The provider in question showed genuine concern and actually challenged us to provide them with the information sooner, showing a real willingness to hear then respond as quickly as possible to such a serious allegation.

At the end of the day, consumers want to be heard, whether it is good or bad. But we also want feedback. I shared my own experience of my Grandmother’s time at Resthaven Westbourne Park in Adelaide and, although it was a positive experience for my family, the fact that the provider has not acknowledged my feedback has taken some of the shine off my lasting impressions.

It is pleasing to see the recent announcements by Government including the Royal Commission and the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, basically placing a new tough cop on the beat. However, we know consumers are often sceptical about these types of initiatives with concerns if they will really be able to uncover all that happens when no-one is watching.  

This is why we are pushing ahead with the consumer reviews and ratings platform to complement these initiatives by making it easier for everyone to share their own experiences of aged care, in a safe and meaningful way. To give everyone a voice when it is needed - good, bad or indifferent.

DPS Publishing CEO Mark Ogden

Mark C Ogden BBsMn (Mktg/Ops), MBA (StratMn)

With over 20 years experience in global corporations and the technology sector, Mark has proven success in understanding then delivering high-value outcomes based on consumer behaviour. Mark has worked across the care, consumer, manufacturing, and technology industries, in senior business, sales and marketing roles. Mark has also represented Asia Pacific on global capability teams as well as been a key driver of innovation on some of the world's most iconic brands.

Mark has a diverse background, with a philosophy of providing strong business value for customers in a continuously advancing world and is particularly focused on maximising DPS’ specialty in empowering consumers of care through informed choice and innovation. 

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