Home | News | Aged care closure: Earle Haven faces royal commission
The front entry of the Earle Haven Retirement Village. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England

Aged care closure: Earle Haven faces royal commission

Last week, the royal commission heard evidence from the players involved in the closing of the Earle Haven facility in Queensland.

The sudden closure left 68 residents temporarily homeless, and during testimony there was confusion – due to the complicated nature of the arrangement between PeopleCare and subcontractor HelpStreet – as to who ultimately bears responsibility.

Further confusion reigned when the question was asked why Earle Haven was still able to operate after frequent sanctions and who was responsible for dealing with complaints, be it the Health Department or the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Also giving evidence in Brisbane was Professor Ron Patterson from the University of Auckland. He was damming in his assessment of providers who “pay lip service” to resolving instances of poor care and more so on the lack of transparency surrounding complaints and investigations in the sector.

“These are publicly funded providers and they are providers who are caring for the most vulnerable members of our community. Why would the default position be secrecy of information about the providers? That strikes me as odd,” he said.

The previous leg of the commission stopped at Mildura and focused on informal carers.

“I just cried silently all the way home so Don couldn’t see. And I just thought, ‘Well maybe I just end it for both of us’,” said Rosemary Cameron, describing a low point she experienced as an informal carer.

Cameron, 69, is a carer for her husband Don, who is living with Lewy body dementia, and she was one of many carers who told the commission of the realities of informal care in Australia.

As of 2015, almost 2.7 million Australians identified themselves as informal and unpaid carers – that’s 12 per cent of our population. Of those, around 420,700 are primary carers of people over the age of 65.

Females make up 68.1 per cent of all primary carers, and this has a massive impact on income and employment opportunities for women. Deloitte Access Economics estimated that carers provided 1.9 billion hours of care in 2015. This is equivalent to each carer providing 673 hours per year or 13 hours per week.

Cameron, among other carers giving evidence, spoke about difficulties dealing with respite, loss of earnings and the effects caring can have on mental health.

The royal commission starts again in Melbourne on September 9.

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