Home | News | Staff, families, blow the whistle on scabies outbreak at aged care home

Staff, families, blow the whistle on scabies outbreak at aged care home

Another aged care home has become the centre of national attention for alleged poor treatment of its vulnerable residents.

Channel Nine's A Current Affair (ACA) program uncovered widespread scabies and poor conditions at the Kindred Living facility in Whyalla, a city in South Australia, four hours north-west of Adelaide.

The allegations came as a result of staff whistleblowers as well as Peter and Brian Strawbridge, family to Heather, a resident at Kindred Living.

"It's like an 18th century asylum," said one of the two staff whistleblowers to ACA. Both the staff members had their identities obscured as they are "terrified of repercussions".

"The staff are very upset" at the conditions that residents find themselves in, the whistleblower said.

"I left," said the other. "I couldn't handle it anymore."

Peter Strawbridge repeatedly brought his wife Heather's rashes to the attention of staff who insisted they were mosquito bites.

Eventually he and son Brain took heather to hospital and found out she had scabies. Peter himself would eventually catch the highly contagious skin infestation.

South Australian State MP Frank Pangallo accompanied ACA and the Strawbridges to confront management at Kindred Living after receiving pictures of residents with rashes and severe bed sores that "have gone through to the vertebrae".

"I find it quite heartbreaking," Pangallo said.

"We owe them a right to be cared for at a standard that we would all come to expect."

The staff told ACA that the facility has previously had two sanctions and a non-compliance in the last year.

When staff made complaints to the Health Department and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, the only action taken was a phone call, no one came to physically check out the complaints.

When Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck was approached about the Whyalla home he told ACA that there had been 11 complaints against Kindred Living that had been investigated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission – two in relation to scabies.

Aged care advocate Stewart Johnston, whose mother was a victim of abuse at Oakden, says this is not an isolated incident and outrageous given that the home received $17.5 million in funding last year alone.

"If you have a loved one in an aged care facility, I suggest you check on them," he said.

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