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Consumer voice - Improving food, dining, nutrition through resolving complaints

Food and dining should be enjoyable, respectful, safe and based on what people living in residential aged care like and don’t like.

Standard 6 of the Quality Standards highlights the opportunities available to providers to enhance the consumer’s experience of food and dining by listening carefully to their feedback and acting on it. Just as positive feedback can reinforce things that work well, complaints can help identify what is needed to improve care and services. The Commission has a role to play here too, in receiving complaints and working on the complainant’s behalf to ensure that their concerns are addressed.

In the course of our complaints resolution process, the Commission works with the complainant and the service provider to help them come to an agreement on how issues can be resolved and what action will be taken. The aim is to resolve complaints quickly and effectively, and to assist aged care providers to improve the quality of their services.

The Food and dining – your choices matter fact sheet for consumers is now available to explain the Commission’s role in helping to address and resolve their concerns if the food provided doesn’t meet their expectations. 

Positive story:

A person receiving aged care services contacted the Commission raising concerns about the food provided at her residential aged care service.

The complainant was dissatisfied about the lack of variety in the service’s menu and that the food served did not match the menu. She also expressed her wish for lamb cutlets to be on the menu. The complainant told the Commission that other residents were also dissatisfied with the lack of choice about the food offered at meal times.

The complaints officer explored the consumer’s concerns with her and helped her to work out what she would like the provider to do differently.

The Commission then contacted the service to discuss the issues raised, assess the risk involved and talk through how the service could help fix the problem.

The service’s manager was open to this conversation and willing to identify actions that the service would take to improve things. The manager acknowledged that sometimes the food served didn’t match the descriptions in the menu. They also explained that lamb cutlets were not currently served because a number of residents weren’t able to eat them safely. However, the manager proposed having a BBQ once a week which would enable the consumer to have items of her choice. 

The manager also advised that the service was in the process of creating a new menu to provide more variety to residents. Following the complaint, the service sought further input from the complainant in this process. The service also consulted a dietitian to ensure that the menu met the dietary needs of residents.

Based on the information provided by the service provider, the Commission was satisfied with the actions taken by the service. The complaints officer advised the complainant of the outcome and she confirmed that she was satisfied also.

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