AU Incident & Complaint Management Policy

Incidents & Complaints Management Policy

1.0 Aim

Homage is committed to delivering a platform that is responsive to the needs of its users, provides adequate safeguards and serves the community in which it operates.

The purpose of this policy and procedure is to ensure that all incidents and complaints are appropriately managed and reported in a timely manner. Such reporting supports the:
• Notification of the incident or complaint both internally and externally as required
• Accurate and consistent documentation of circumstances relating to incidents or complaints
• Identification and evaluation of risks associated with services
• Ensuring that the safety and wellbeing of customers, staff and other people is actively managed and results in continuous improvement
• Open disclosure to customers and carers about any incident or complaint that may have caused harm to a customer, including the steps taken to prevent such an incident or a complaint occurring again..

2.0 Key definitions

Complaint means an expression of dissatisfaction made to or about Homage where a response is expected.

Incident means any unplanned event, act, omission or circumstance which causes, or which has the potential to cause unnecessary harm, loss or damage to a person.

You do not have to actively make a complaint or notify us of an incident, for it to be dealt with under this policy. We may become aware of complaints or incidents via other means, including visit summary, reviews, user feedback, and Homage’s moderation service.

3.0 Who and when to notify?

In order to keep our community safe and to support compliance with any relevant regulation or guidelines, Homage requires notification of any incident taking place during or in relation to the provision of a service via its platform. However, before notifying us, it is important to consider who else to notify about your incident or complaint. For instance, where a registered or approved service provider is involved, it may be necessary to notify them as well. 

It is also important to note that there are separate mandatory reporting requirements in place for both NDIS participants and Aged Care customers.

NDIS Reportable Incidents

For incidents and complaints relating to services provided to NDIS participants, all “reportable incidents” should also be reported to the NDIS Commission. You must report all “reportable incidents”  within 24 hours of the incident occurring.

Reportable incidents are serious incidents or alleged incidents which result in harm to an NDIS participant and occur in connection with NDIS supports and services. Specific types of reportable incidents include:

  • The death of a person with disability. Serious injury of a person with disability.
  • Abuse or neglect of a person with disability.
  • Unlawful sexual or physical contact with, or assault of, a person with disability (excluding, in the case of unlawful physical assault, contact with, and impact on, the person that is negligible).
  • Sexual misconduct committed against, or in the presence of, a person with disability, including grooming of the person for sexual activity.
  • The use of a restrictive practice in relation to a person with disability, other than where the use is in accordance with an authorisation (however described) of a State or Territory in relation to the person or a behaviour support plan for the person.

Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) Reportable Incidents – Aged Care 

If you are providing services to aged care consumers (Consumers), you must ensure you are aware of your requirements under SIRS to assist Approved Providers to fulfil their obligations to report reportable incidents to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (Commission). 

Reportable Incidents are those that: 

  • Occur in connection with the provision of care or services; 
  • Have caused harm to a Consumer; and 
  • Are one of the Eight Types of Reportable Incidents for home services, which include:
  • Unreasonable use of force 
  • Unlawful sexual contact or inappropriate sexual conduct 
  • Psychological or emotional abuse 
  • Unexpected death 
  • Stealing or financial coercion
  • Neglect 
  • Inappropriate physical or chemical restraint 
  • Unexplained absence from care

Reportable Incidents must be reported to the Commission.  They are classified as “Priority 1” or “Priority 2” Reportable Incidents. If either of these incidents occur during your support session, you must notify Homage Team as soon as possible, so that they can notify the Approved Provider for the Consumer. This is due to the fact that if an Approved Provider becomes aware of a Reportable Incident and has reasonable grounds to believe that the incident is a Priority 1 Reportable Incident, it must notify the Commission within 24 hours of becoming aware of the Reportable Incident. Where required, these incidents must also be reported to the Police. 

A “Priority 1” Reportable Incident is an incident:

  • That is an unexpected death of a Consumer;
  • That caused (or reasonably have been expected to cause) a Consumer physical or psychological injury or discomfort that requires medical or psychological treatment to resolve;
  • Where there are reasonable grounds to report the incident to Police;
  • Involving unlawful sexual contact or inappropriate sexual conduct inflicted on a Consumer; or 
  • Where a Consumer goes missing in the course of provision of home services. 

A “Priority 2 Reportable incident is an incident that does not meet the criteria for a Priority 1 Reportable Incident, but is listed above as one of the Eight Types of Reportable Incidents. These incidents must be reported to the Commission by the Approved Provider for the Consumer within 30 days of it becoming aware of the incident.

Notifications to the police

For Priority 1 incidents, there is also a requirement to notify the Police where there are reasonable grounds to do so, within 24 hours of becoming aware of the incident. This includes scenarios where you are aware of facts or circumstances that lead to a belief that an incident is unlawful or considered to be of a criminal nature (for example sexual assault). 

Reporting to Police in relation to criminal conduct should occur regardless of whether the incident is alleged or suspected to have occurred. 

If you are in any doubt about whether an incident is of a criminal nature, make a report to the Police.

For further information in relation to SIRS in Home Service, including examples of Reportable Incidents, please refer to the following website: https://www.agedcarequality.gov.au/sirs/sirs-home-services

If you have a SIRS enquiry, you can:

  • call the Commission on 1800 081 549 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm (AEST) Monday to Friday, or between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm (AEST) Saturday and Sunday
  • email the Commission at [email protected].

4.0 How to notify us

You may report an incident or complaint to us in a number of ways, including 

  • Incident Report Form submitted via our website
  • Incident Report submitted as part of a visit summary lodgement via Homage app (section: “Did you find any challenges?”)
  • Feedback and Complaints Form submitted via our website
  • Telephone call to our Customer Support Team 1300 705 029

Whilst we accept anonymous complaints and incidents, if we cannot identify you, it often makes it difficult for us to investigate and provide feedback.

5.0 Your privacy 

We protect your identity where practical and appropriate. Personal information that identifies you will only be used or disclosed in accordance with relevant privacy laws or our Privacy Policy. There are some limited circumstances where we may disclose your personal information without your consent. This may include matters involving allegations of violence, exploitation, neglect, abuse and sexual misconduct, which may be reported to the police and/or external regulators. For further information please refer to our Privacy Policy.

6.0 What you can expect from us

Our approach to incidents and complaints is governed by the following key principles:

1 Centred on people with disability and elderly people Management of an incident or a complaint is respectful of, and responsive to, an elderly or person with disability’s preferences, needs, and values.
2 Outcome focused Management of an incident or a complaint should reveal the factors that contributed to the incident report or complaint being made, and seek to prevent matters giving rise to incidents or complaints from reoccurring, where appropriate.
3 Clear, Simple and Consistent The process for receiving and responding to incident reports or complaint is easy to understand, accessible and consistently applied.
4 Accountable Service providers are responsible for managing incidents and complaints. Everyone involved in the management of an incident or a complaint understands their role and responsibilities, and will be accountable for decisions or actions taken.
5 Continual Improvement The incident and complaint process facilitates the ongoing identification of issues and implementation of changes to improve the quality and safety.

7.0 How are incidents managed?

Assessment & Initial Response Upon receipt, incidents are assigned a risk rating (minor, medium, major), depending on the estimated severity. Immediate actions to mitigate harm may also be required, including: providing support to those involved notifying emergency services in the case of an emergency (e.g. police, fire, ambulance, etc)
Acknowledgement We will acknowledge receipt of all incidents within two-working days, and those with a risk rating medium or major will be acknowledged as soon as is practicable (within 24 hours)
Referral

If a registered provider is involved then the incident should also be reported to that organisation. Where appropriate, Homage will refer incidents to any responsible third parties and request acknowledgement.
Actions & Decisions

We will develop a plan of action based on the Impact Level and the nature of the incident, which may include: the need for further dialogue with involved parties the offer of trauma counselling or other support escalation to Homage Team notifying external bodies suggested actions to prevent recurrence of the incident reminding users of Homage’s Code of Conduct / Terms of Use suspending or removing a user from the platform
Mandatory Reporting It is a requirement by law that some incidents are reported to the NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commission or the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (whichever is relevant to the service provision in question). Details of the types of incidents that require reporting to each commission can be found here: https://www.agedcarequality.gov.au/sirs

Risk Rating Timeframe Type of Incidents
Minor Within 3 business days • Incidents where nobody was or was potentially physically or psychologically harmed

• Any injuries / illnesses which were very minor – band aid or Panadol was enough to remedy

• There was no significant damage to property e.g. perhaps a glass was broken when it slipped out of somebody’s hand

Medium Within 48 hours • A one-off incident which identified an ongoing hazard needing urgent remedy – client injured by incident with wheelchair needing repair / broken shower chair

• A recurring incident involving the same client. Needs closer monitoring and better management

• An illness which may have required medical attention / hospitalisation but was not life threatening

• Accident resulting in an injury which did not require medical attention / hospitalisation– client may slip in the shower and bruise their arm against the glass screen; a worker might trip a client up because they hadn’t been watching where they were walking

• Deliberate acts of aggression which did not result in an injury requiring medical attention / hospitalisation

• An incident involving psychological trauma which was dealt with effectively through comforting / counselling & was not ongoing

Major Immediately / within 24 hours depending NDIS or Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission requirement Would potentially have required to be reported to the NDIS or Aged Care Commission if intervention had not occurred – that is an Incident so serious it had the potential to result in death / serious injury /serious injury requiring hospitalisation / abuse or neglect etc

Reportable Incidents under the NDIS

• Death of a person with disability
• Serious injury of a person with disability
• Abuse or neglect of a person with disability
• Unlawful sexual or physical contact with, or assault of, a person with disability; or
• Sexual misconduct committed against, or in the presence of, a person with disability, including grooming of the person for sexual activity; or
• The use of a restrictive practice in relation to a person with disability, other than where the use is in accordance with an authorisation (however described) of a State or Territory in relation to the person.

Note: Incidents are reportable under the NDIS even if they are only being alleged

8.0 How are complaints managed?

  1. We will acknowledge receiving your complaint or feedback as soon as possible after it is received. The relevant Customer Support team member will then make a record of your complaint in our system. 
  2. Action to resolve the complaint or feedback will start within 2 working days. We may seek additional information from you or other stakeholders in order to review the complaint. You will be consulted as part of the process.
  3. Within 5 working days of the complaint being made a course of action will be decided between you and the Customer Support Team.
  4. You have the right to have a support person or advocate to assist or represent you during the complaints process.
  5. You will be kept informed of the reasons for any decisions being made and any actions being taken at every stage of the process.
  6. Once action has been taken, the Customer Support Team will record the outcome in writing in our user contact system, you can request to see a copy of this record at any time. 
  7. If a satisfactory course of action cannot be agreed upon within 5 working days from receiving your complaint, the Customer Support Team will refer it to the General Support Manager to recommend a course of action.

9.0 What if you are still not satisfied with the outcome of a complaint?

You may consider using our internal appeals process. Appeals are escalated to, reviewed by and determined by our Homage Team. Appeals need to be submitted in writing to: [email protected]

The appeal submission must state the reason(s) you are appealing the decision or outcome and provide the complaint case reference number (if this has been provided to you). The time limit for lodging an appeal is three months from the original decision or outcome. Appeals are determined within 21 days of the date of submission, and you will be notified in writing of the outcome. The Board reviews all appeals on a regular basis. 

If you remain unsatisfied with the outcome following the conclusion of the appeals process, then you may wish to refer the matter to an appropriate external body such as:

  • NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, Ph: 1800 035 544, Web: www.ndiscommission.gov.au
  • Aged Care Quality & Safeguards Commission, Ph: 1800 951 822 Web: www.agedcarequality.gov.au
  • Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner in your State or Territory.