Checks uncover aged-care breaches
CHURCH’S SIXTH HOME FAILURE
A sixth aged-care home operated by an arm of the Uniting Church in Queensland has failed an unannounced audit because it did not have enough qualified staff.
Blue Care Mareeba, on the Atherton Tableland west of Cairns, was visited by Australian Aged Care Quality Authority inspectors on Thursday and is believed to have failed a key standard relating to staffing.
A source familiar with the inspection told The Australian it found breaches of the aged-care standards relating to clinical and nursing skills, especially the shedding of employees capable of handling high-risk residents.
The non-compliance notice has not yet been made public by the federal government.
Since November the churchrun aged-care provider has also allegedly breached the same compliance regulations at five other sites in Mackay, Ingham and Bundaberg.
The group has two aged-care centres in Bundaberg registered under three provider identifications. All three IDs have been issued non-compliance notices.
The most serious breaches were found at its Bundaberg Pioneer centre, when an AACQA officer arrived for a spot check and, according to a leaked memo, found a resident hanging out of bed calling for help. The memo said the officer sought help after verbal calls and the call button went unanswered.
After initially denying reports, Blue Care Group executive Alan Wilson apologised.
“We have taken immediate action to address process and staff practice failures at Pioneer, implementing a range of immediate changes and improvements,” Mr Wilson said in a statement in January. “We apologise for the quality failures identified at Pioneer and would like to reassure the Bundaberg community that the safety and wellbeing of Pioneer residents is our numberone priority.”
The aged-care sector has been the subject of fee rorting and squeezed funding from the federal government’s Aged Care Funding Instrument, which subsidises the clinical care of residents.
This month The Australian revealed the $1 billion-listed company Regis Health Care had been called out by doctors in public hospitals as a frequent referrer of residents to emergency departments for basic care usually provided by registered nurses.
The problem was particularly severe at the company’s Sandgate centre, to Brisbane’s north, where at least five patients were referred to Prince Charles Hospital for rudimentary catheter and wound care between January and March.
A spokeswoman for Blue Care said it was making progress on some of its compliance issues and had fixed problems at other sites.
“Our comprehensive remediation action plan at Pioneer has been under way for several months and is now well progressed, and feedback from Pioneer residents and their families has been positive,’’ she said.
She said AACQA auditors had revisited the Pioneer centre on March 27 and “provided positive feedback on the improvements”.
“The intensity of nursing care required ... varies greatly between individual residents and facilities, and constantly fluctuates; therefore Blue Care must apply flexible staffing models that can deliver an appropriate skills-mix for the changing occupancy levels and changing needs of residents at each individual site.’’