How to keep yourself safe and free from complaints?

I took the time to go through some of the HDC Complaints to see if there were any common threads in the complaints received to find out why people complain.  Essentially it boils down to two things:

  • Lack of communication
  • Insufficient knowledge base i.e. training

So how can you avoid an HDC complaint?  To understand this, the manager has to realise the buck stops with them.  It doesn’t matter that you were not even on the premise’s when the alleged action or in action whichever the case may be, occurred.  The Manager is responsible. 

Now I know the Manager cannot be there 24/7.  I also know that the responsibility of such a position is responsible for “burnout” of so many managers.  While you may have very high standards and expectations of your staff, if they do not know what to do, then they will not do it.  It is as simple as that.

So how are you going to overcome the complaints

Firstly, make sure your staff have sufficient knowledge to do the work they are expected to do.  Do not rely on the fact that they have cared for an elderly relative or a child as being sufficient knowledge for them to look after a frail or incapacitated adult being it a young physically disabled person or an older person.  So training is key to this.  It has to be ongoing and consistent.

Secondly, make sure there environment in which they work is happy..  This includes having adequate staff numbers to provide the care.  While the standards do not provide mandatory staff/patient ratios, it is common sense to realise that frail and debilitated people take a lot of care and time.  Hospital level should be around 1caregiver to 5 people and rest home around 1-8or 9, depending on the level of dependency.  The higher the staff/patient ration means short cuts will be taken, the more at risk residents are and undoubtedly they  will suffer inadequate care, staff will become disgruntled and leave and needless to say, complaints from relatives will occur.

Thirdly, communicate with the families.  Keeping them in the dark, avoiding speaking to them and not keeping them up to date with what is happening is a recipe for disaster.  Making time for relatives or primary caregiver is the best insurance against a complaint.  Contact them before they contact you.  It is rare to find a person who has placed a loved one into care, to not feel guilty at having to do this.  Make their job easier by keeping them up to date with what is going on with their loved one.  Give them the courtesy of a phone call to advise of any and everything about the person in care no matter how small it may be.  You are required under Open Disclosure to do this, but hey, wouldn’t it be better for you to tell them before they came in and found out?  It is common sense really.  A no-brainer.Avoid conflict situations from occurring by keeping people informed and up to day.  I know it takes time to do this but how much time does and investigation take?  Considerably more.

So if you want to avoid a complaint:

  • Train your staff well. Make sure RN’s & EN’s are kept up to date with current knowledge and practices, and Caregivers know what to do

  • Have sufficient staff on duty to do the work and create a happy environment in which to work

  • Keep families informed.  Take the time to talk to them when they come in and if you haven’t seen them for a while, give them a call to give them an update.  Contacting them before they contact you is the key.

Making the above your mantra will help to keep you safe.  And take the time to go and have a look at the HDC Case Notes and see what people complain about, but remember these are only to cases that are investigated. Many are not but it takes a lot of time to prove a case.  So keep facility free of complaints by following the above.


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