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Aged care and hiya: Providing feedback or complaints in an aged care home

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By Perth Furio

Perth Furio, Aged Care professional

With a nation as diverse as Australia, we have found ways to make government and community services accessible to most members of our multicultural society. The health department’s services are promoted and made available in a variety of languages, including Filipino, which enhances accessibility. For Australians who were born and raised in the Philippines, we most likely grew up with virtues and values that can have a tremendous impact on our or our loved ones’ experience in the aged care system. Let us have a quick look at the Filipino concept of ‘hiya’ in relation to providing feedback or complaints in an aged care home.

Under the Australian aged care system, operators are required to comply with Aged Care Quality Standards, one of which pertains to feedback and complaints. This standard requires a consumer outcome wherein they feel safe, encouraged and supported to give feedback and make complaints. Consumers must also be engaged in the process to address their respective concerns and make sure appropriate action is taken. An aged care home will have its own processes in place to receive complaints from residents and families. This could be by raising concerns with a staff member in-charge or the manager; accomplishing a feedback form available at the home, or perhaps escalating a complaint by getting in touch directly with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission if unsatisfied with the provider’s response. 

As we Filipinos are culturally known to be meek, we typically go out of our way to avoid causing inconvenience to others to preserve our dignity, sometimes to our own detriment. Dr. Jeremiah Lasquety-Reyes of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium described the Filipino concept of hiya in his work, In Defense of Hiya as a Filipino Virtue (2016), as shame or embarrassment, or a sacrificial self-control of our wants for the sake of other people. An example, perhaps, is an overseas Filipino worker portraying herself as having excellent working and living conditions to her family overseas, despite barely affording herself a proper meal, skipping on medicines, and working in an abusive environment (I highly recommend watching the film Anak starring Vilma Santos).

Respect, dignity and ageing in the Filipino community
Source: Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria

While hiya as a virtue provides us dignity and respect, it is important to remember that we need to grow out of it when it comes to ensuring our lolo, lola, tito, tita, nanay, and tatay’s safety and well-being. As all aged care providers are required to have their own feedback and complaints mechanisms in place, it is our job to speak up and set aside hiya if we have concerns about our loved one’s care. After all, feedback and complaints provide aged care operators with opportunities to improve their services, also benefiting our community as a whole.

(Perth Furio has been working in the aged and home care sector for more than 10 years in various roles from bedside care to management consulting both in Melbourne and in the Philippines. He has in-depth insight of residential aged care facility operations and workforce management).

Main photo credit: iStock

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