2021/22 Aged-care complaints

Complaints about aged-care services can be complex, as often they involve a series of events over long periods of time. An aged residential-care facility is also the older person’s home.

In the 2021/22 year, HDC received 183 complaints relating to aged residential-care (ARC) facilities. Common complaint themes for this period were:

  • ineffective communication with consumers and their whānau
  • inadequate care and treatment
  • management of behaviours resulting from stress and distress
  • inadequate coordination and escalation of care.

The following broader, systemic issues are also evident when looking across complaints received during the year:

  • diversity and cultural safety
  • appropriate standards of care and skills of staff
  • dementia care and management
  • skills and responsiveness of home care support staff
  • consumers’ understanding of the care provided by retirement villages
  • mental health for older people.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, HDC paid close attention to complaints about ARC services because this group was particularly vulnerable, and restrictions introduced may have resulted in a lack of visibility over the care provided. Complainants raised concerns regarding:

  • inconsistent visitor restrictions across ARC facilities, and a lack of communication with whānau about the condition of their loved ones over the period restrictions were in place
  • the adequacy of infection prevention and control policies and/or a failure to follow such policies
  • standards of care provided to residents of ARC facilities during restrictions, including issues around staffing levels
  • staffing issues related to the vaccine mandate, and following an increase in active COVID-19 cases.