Federal aged care regulators failed to act on crucial warning signs at a Gold Coast nursing home that shut suddenly on vulnerable residents, a review says.
Queensland’s government had to step in and organise a mass evacuation from the high-care facilities at the Earle Haven retirement home on July 11.
Eight of the 69 residents were sent to hospital after the evacuation. Three have since died, one after a fall during the evacuation.
The review’s report released on Monday found aged care regulators had disregarded People Care’s history of non-compliance under the Aged Care Act.
It was unaware of the organisational culture of the approved aged care provider People Care and its sub-contractor Help Street, including their bitter financial dispute and personal animosity.
It also failed to act on increasing complaints about the quality of service and high levels of chemical and physical restraints.
“The aged care regulators failed to appreciate the mounting risk,” the inquiry by former ACT chief minister Kate Carnell found.
“There were also occasions when regulators failed to engage critically with information received or follow through with necessary action.”
The facility closed after People Care told Help Street Villages it would terminate their contract.
Help Street then gave People Care one day to pay 50 per cent of $3.9 million it said it was owed.
People Care didn’t, Help Street called removalists and the residents became homeless.
“Senior management of both companies allowed personal animosity and financial considerations to override their responsibility for the people in their care,” the report said.
The inquiry also examined the subcontracting arrangement, which is allowed under the Aged Care Act.
It said Help Street lacked experience in aged care and used the subcontracting arrangement to enter the sector without having been first assessed by aged care regulators.
The report made 23 recommendations to beef up federal oversight, including subcontracting and commercial arrangements, all of which have been supported by the federal government.
The report was highly critical of Help Street’s senior management and disappointed by the amount of information they provided the inquiry.
“The inquiry is of the view that this attitude suggests a deplorable lack of accountability by Help Street for the consequences of their actions.”
Federal Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said the events at Earle Haven were unprecedented.
“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,” Colbeck said.
The independent Aged Care Royal Commission is also examining the events at Earle Haven and may make further findings.
Since the events at Earle Haven, People Care has been subject to significant sanctions, including the revocation of all residential aged care places and home care packages.Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]