Calls for Trip Advisor-style platform to compare aged care

ADVOCATES for dementia and aged care services are calling for a new system or app that allows consumers to share and compare their experiences. 

With online sites such as Bean Hunter for rating coffee spots in Australia and Trip Advisor to help travellers find the perfect accommodation for them, it's a no-brainer to wonder why there's not the same sort of system for comparing aged care services. 

Australian aged care facilities are all required to be accredited but they are not currently obliged to measure the quality of their services. 

Alzheimer's Australia chief executive Carol Bennett said to the ABC there should be national measures that help consumers and their families make informed choices when looking for providers. 

"You don't actually have any standards looking at quality in aged care," she said. 

"It makes it very difficult for people to make decisions and choices, often at a time of crisis, and know where they can place their families … and get the things that they want out of aged care."

These standards, she said, should take into account everything from healthcare and capacity to deal with severe behaviours, to cognitive therapy and consumer experience.

"We need to know what the consumer experience is of those services," she said.

The Australian Government is currently calling on residential aged care services to implement a trial of three quality indicators.

Those measures are pressure injuries, use of physical restraint and unplanned weight loss.

"They're not about quality, they're compliance," aged care provider Hammond Care chief executive Stephen Judd said to the ABC.

A vocal leader in the industry, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, Dr Judd said to the ABC, while it may be more subjective, he would like to see a quality of life measure included.

He suggested the commissioning of a review platform that gives consumers and families the chance to share their experiences.

"It's Trip Advisor with a bit of a pause on," he said.

"People can find out about the good, the bad and ugly, and have stories that are moderated by an external provider before publishing.

"Issues like choice and lifestyle and activities and food and freedom of an environment. What do I want to do, and am I able to do it?

"I think the most important measure of quality in aged care is the experience of clients and residents."

A platform called Care Opinion has recently been launched in Australia.

Unlike sites like Trip Advisor or Bean Hunter - which give customers the chance to rate businesses - Care Opinion chief executive Michael Greco said to the ABC the not-for-profit's focus was less about telling people where to shop and more about helping them drive change.

"You want indicators that are more meaningful than a blunt rating," he said.

"It's about moving the system from a complaints culture to improvement culture.

"If the provider doesn't want to respond they will look bad, but if they're serious about listening to their clients' experiences, and improving that, then it will show."

The Scottish Government has subscribed Care Opinion as a national feedback platform for its social services.

Professor Greco said he would welcome discussions with the Federal Government about how it could utilise the platform in Australian aged care.


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