A report into the sudden closure of a Gold Coast nursing home has accused its owners and service provider of putting personal and commercial interests ahead of the elderly people they were supposed to be caring for.
The aged care facilities at Earle Haven Retirement Village at Nerang shut down suddenly in July forcing the evacuation of 69 elderly residents.
An inquiry has found that a breakdown in the relationship between Earle Haven owner People Care Pty Ltd and aged care service provider Help Street Villages led to the closure.
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The report by former ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell was scathing of senior management at People Care and Help Street.
An escalating contractual dispute between the two parties ultimately led to the events of July 11 after People Care issued a notice of termination to Help Street.
But Ms Carnell’s report criticised the way the two companies handled the situation.
“It was the manner in which the senior management of Help Street and People Care conducted themselves which led to the collapse of service provision rather than a transition to new arrangements.
“Based on the information available to the Inquiry, the Inquiry is of the view that senior management of both Help Street and People Care allowed commercial considerations and personal animosity to override their responsibility to the people in their care.”
The report claimed Help Street ‘lacked experience in aged care’ and that people living in the facility were put at risk because of a lack of oversight of its contract with People Care and key personnel.
It also found People Care had a history of regulatory non-compliance and that the aged care regulators missed a number of warning signs including the high level of chemical and physical restraints and a rise in complaints about services.
The report argued that evacuations like that which took place at Earle Haven should only happen in the case of life threatening situations such as floods and fires, arguing that sudden relocation in itself could be life-threatening.
Ms Carnell did praise staff who remained on site to help with the evacuation of residents amid the chaos.
“This compassionate act demonstrated their commitment to the wellbeing of the people in their care. This is a trait consistent with most of the dedicated and caring people who work in the aged care industry and is something we should all applaud.”
The inquiry has made 23 recommendations including:
- greater regulatory capacity and coordination
- greater oversight of financial and commercial arrangements
- greater oversight of the purchasing and sub-contracting of approved provider status
- better managing the risks associated with key personnel and organisational culture
- sanction options which better balance the need for decisive action with the desire of people to remain in their homes
- better planned and coordinated responses to emerging situations in aged care facilities.
Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck says the Government would support all 23 recommendations.
“We owe it to the residents and families caught up in this tragedy to do all that we can to prevent situations like Earle Haven occurring again,” Minister Colbeck said.
“As I said at the time, this inquiry is about ensuring we understand why the situation occurred, that we do what we can to prevent this type of event in the future, and that those responsible are held to account.