What to do if you have a concern about your home support services

Never hesitate to voice any concerns you have, or make a complaint, about your home support services.

The organisation that provides your home support services wants to know if anything is bothering you so that they can address the problem and improve the services that they provide. Often a small problem can turn into a bigger problem if it is left unresolved, so it’s a good idea to raise any concerns you have early on.

Your right to home support services will not be affected if you raise a concern or make a complaint.

This page lists the things you can complain about and explains how to lay a complaint or raise a concern that will then be managed through a complaints process. To find out more about what you can expect from publicly funded home support services, see What you can expect from home support services.

You do not have to raise a concern or a complaint yourself. You can ask someone you trust to do so on your behalf, or you can ask them to work with you to raise a concern or a complaint.

The Health and Disability Advocacy Service, contracted by the Health and Disability Commissioner, provides free advocacy and assistance for consumers of health and disability support services. Contact details are provided below.

Things you can complain about

Any behaviour that you consider to be contrary to your rights under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights 1996 (the Code of Rights), including your right to:

  • respect
  • freedom from discrimination, coercion, harassment and exploitation
  • dignity and independence
  • services of an appropriate standard
  • effective communication
  • information and informed consent
  • receive support
  • complain.

Some forms of home support may not be covered by the Code of Rights, for example, housework such as cleaning.

Examples of things you can complain about are:

  • your support worker being abusive (physical, verbal or emotional)
  • your support worker being dishonest
  • your support worker being careless; compromising your safety or the safety of anyone they are working around (eg, by not using equipment properly)
  • your support worker consistently managing their time poorly (eg, frequently arriving late at your home or even not turning up at all, without warning or good reason)
  • your support worker not respecting your privacy
  • your support worker not respecting your culture or what makes you unique or behaving inappropriately (for example, saying things or behaving in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or just doesn’t feel right to you)
  • your support worker not supporting you to meet the goals set in your home support plan
  • your home support organisation not providing an alternative support worker when your main support worker can’t be there
  • your home support organisation sending a support worker who isn’t able to do the work
  • Poor communication, for example, if you feel you are not able to easily talk to someone at the home support organisation.

How to raise a concern or make a complaint

First, contact a manager or service coordinator in the organisation providing your home support services. All home support organisations have complaints processes. Your home support organisation will have given you information about their complaints process when you joined their service. This information might include a leaflet that includes a complaints form, but you don’t have to use the form. You can raise a concern or make a complaint by telephone, in writing or in person.

It does not matter if you make a formal complaint or talk informally with someone from the organisation about your problem.

All home support organisations must treat your concerns or complaints seriously and follow the complaints process set out in the Code of Rights.

It doesn’t matter how you make a complaint, your home support organisation will send you a letter confirming that they have received your complaint and will investigate it. Raising a concern or making a complaint will not result in any negative consequences for you.

If you feel your complaint has not been satisfactorily resolved or feel uncomfortable making a complaint to your home support organisation, you can complain to your local Health and Disability Advocacy Service, your Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) organisation, the Ministry of Health or the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC). You can also complain to the body that funds your care – this might be your local district health board (DHB), ACC or the Ministry of Health Disability Support Services.

As part of Budget 2021, the Government has announced that a dedicated Aged Care Commissioner role will be established within the office of the HDC to provide a higher profile and focal point for monitoring and addressing quality and safety issues in the aged care sector, and to provide greater influence and leadership to the aged care sector in prioritising and driving systemic quality improvement. It is expected that the terms of reference for the Commissioner and the timing of an appointment to this role will be agreed with the Minister of Health before the end of 2021. 

More information

If you would like more information about the complaints process, you can:

Speak up if you are concerned about the quality of the home support that you or a family member or friend is receiving.

The information on this page is also available as a brochure: What to do if you have a concern about your home support services (PDF, 2.8 MB).

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