Unhappy with home care- Cropped photo showing stacks of different coloured plates and bowls on a white shelf

What to do if you are unhappy with your home care

It can happen: despite the best of intentions and careful case management, you’ve become unhappy with your home carer or other services that make up your home care package. Or maybe the problem is bigger than that, and you’ve lost faith in your provider altogether.

Whatever the issue, there are services and processes in place to help you work through it. Under the Consumer Directed Care model, it’s up to you to choose your provider – and it’s also your decision if you want to switch to another provider.

With many providers charging exit fees, if you want to part ways, and a rapport already built with your current carer/s, it is usually is in your best interests to stay with your current provider and work things out. Before doing anything, it is best to go back to your copy of your care plan/ agreement and check the details- perhaps that task you think your carer is skipping is actually outside of their management's OH&S policy.

After consulting your paperwork, here are the steps to take if you’re not happy with the way things are going with your home care.

First thing: speak up!

You are entitled to good quality care that supports you to keep living at home. If you don’t believe your care is up to scratch, speak up about it. Don’t feel as though you’re making trouble or ‘being difficult’ – your complaint or feedback can help providers address issues and improve their service for others. The best way to look at it: you’re helping them out!

Having said that, it could be a good idea to first speak to a family member or trusted friend about your problem area, even get them to cast an eye over your care agreement. Get their feedback and use it to help you clearly express your concern – you’ll need to be able to do this if you take the matter further.

Know your rights

The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner is very clear about your rights as a recipient of aged care services. They are:

  • personal privacy
  • being involved in decisions that affect you
  • being treated with dignity and respect
  • receiving good quality care that meets your needs
  • full and effective use of your personal, civil, legal and consumers rights
  • the right to complain and take steps to sort out any problems
  • advocacy support

If you feel that any of these rights are being ignored – and that includes your carer not meeting your needs – you have good grounds to make changes.

Be open and honest with your provider

It might be difficult, but it’s important to discuss your concerns directly with your case/ care manager. After consulting your care plan, explain to them exactly what the problem is – it may help you to put your concerns in writing to clarify the issue to yourself, and have as a guide to refer to in the discussion. Focus on the facts – the issue could be distressing or emotional for you, so detailing actual events will help keep things clear.

If you have a desired outcome that will fix the problem for you, be clear what it is. Remember that reviewing your care plan should be an option, and it’s up to you to decide which services you want.

All services are required to have a complaints system in place, and it’s in their interests to resolve the issue with you and keep you on their books. If you don’t feel comfortable taking on this discussion alone, ask a family member or friend to be present, or request advocacy support.

Making the switch

If you can’t resolve the issue with your current provider, you have the right to switch providers at any time without losing funds. You may, however, incur an exit fee, and you will of course need to make the effort to search out a new provider who’ll be better able to meet your needs. See our full guide on how to switch providers.

How to make a complaint

If discussions haven’t gone well and you want to make a complaint about the treatment you received, there is a clear process and support to do so. You’ll need to provide a written account of the issue, including details of all the steps taken to fix the problem and copies of any documents relating to it (so it’s worthwhile keeping records of all this).

Find out more from the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.

Remember: your home care package is yours to spend as you wish, and if you’re not happy with the care you’re receiving, you have the right to change it!