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The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - MICHAEL OWEN

The na­tion was shocked last year when it emerged that a fed­er­ally funded aged-care fa­cil­ity run by the for­mer South Aus­tralian La­bor gov­ern­ment had for 10 years housed el­derly de­men­tia pa­tients who were over-med­i­cated, in­ad­e­quately fed, in­jured, placed in me­chan­i­cal re­straints for up to 10 hours a day and iso­lated in squalid con­di­tions.

The treat­ment, in­clud­ing prac­tices that lacked “any hu­man­ity”, at the Older Per­sons Men­tal Health fa­cil­ity at Oak­den, in Ade­laide’s north­east, left the state gov­ern­ment with no choice but to close it.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been com­mis­sioned in De­cem­ber 2016 only af­ter the fam­ily of a pa­tient per­sisted with a com­plaint made six months ear­lier that was ini­tially fobbed off.

As re­vealed by The Aus­tralian in March, se­nior health of­fi­cials wrote brief­ing notes to state La­bor min­is­ters for years urg­ing them to trans­fer Oak­den to pri­vate op­er­a­tors to im­prove care and con­di­tions for vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents, but no ac­tion was taken amid fears of an “in­dus­trial war” with unions.

The In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sioner Against Cor­rup­tion, which also re­leased a damn­ing re­port, was un­able to investigate fur­ther be­cause premier Jay Weather­ill de­nied ac­cess to any rel­e­vant cab­i­net pa­pers. ICAC did find state min­is­ters re­spon­si­ble for Oak­den’s fail­ures and noted their lack of aware­ness was “as­ton­ish­ing”.

Yes­ter­day, Scott Mor­ri­son said that in the 12 months since Oak- den was shut, the fed­eral Health De­part­ment had closed al­most one aged-care ser­vice a month, with an in­creas­ing num­ber un­der sanc­tion.

A royal com­mis­sion into aged care, an­nounced yes­ter­day by the Prime Min­is­ter, could lead to the big­gest com­mon­wealth shake-up of the sec­tor since the kerosene baths scan­dal in 2000 re­vealed a sys­temic cri­sis.

A re­view into fed­eral agen­cies that over­see aged-care cen­tres, or­dered by Aged Care Min­is­ter Ken Wy­att last year, found there were 4500 com­plaints a year about the na­tion’s 2678 ac­cred­ited fa­cil­i­ties.

This month, 35-year-old aged­care worker Prakash Paudyal was charged over the al­leged as­sault of an 82-year-old res­i­dent with de­men­tia at a Bupa aged-care home in Seaforth, in Syd­ney’s north.

In June, a NSW mag­is­trate con­demned the as­sault of an “ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble” 85-yearold de­men­tia pa­tient in Syd­ney aged-care fa­cil­ity The Po­plars by staff mem­ber Dana Ma­ree Gray, who ag­gres­sively pulled off the woman’s white robe and slapped her re­peat­edly.

In Fe­bru­ary, three nurses were sacked and a doc­tor re­ported to the Queens­land Health Om­buds- man af­ter sus­pi­cious deaths of five res­i­dents at the Carin­ity Fair­field Grange aged-care fa­cil­ity in Townsville, which is pri­vately run.

Last year, 19 Vic­to­rian nurs­ing homes failed to meet some of the most ba­sic stan­dards of care.

Mr Mor­ri­son said such in­ci­dences of older peo­ple be­ing hurt “sim­ply can­not be ex­plained or ex­cused; we must be as­sured about how wide­spread these cases are”.

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