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Qld urges federal govt to act on aged care

news, national

The collapse of a Gold Coast nursing home should never have occurred and the federal government must act to ensure it never happens again, a Queensland investigation has found. A parliamentary committee has looked into what caused the abrupt and chaotic closure of Earle Haven’s high-care facilities on July 11. “The Earle Haven debacle has highlighted the disastrous consequences that occur when a nursing home suddenly ceases providing care to its residents,” committee chair Aaron Harper said on Thursday. A dispute between the home’s owner and a sub-contractor sparked a full-scale emergency evacuation, with almost 70 elderly residents forced to move to other residential facilities and hospitals. Three residents have since died, one after a fall during the evacuation. Problems with safety and the quality of care being provided by sub-contractor HelpStreet arose at the beginning of 2019, if not sooner, the committee’s report said. People Care was aware of them from at least March 20. Three audits of HelpStreet carried out by People Care between March and June found significant issues with its management of the facility, but did not cut off its services. A further audit by regulators on the facility in June found chemical restraints were being used on 71 per cent of residents and physical restraints on 50 per cent of residents. A federal review into the incident found federal aged care regulators had missed crucial warning signs of problems at Earle Haven. Now, the state probe has found the owner, People Care, was given a string of second chances by regulators. Mr Harper, a Labor MP, says the issue falls at the feet of the federal government and that they must do more. “(We) call on the federal government to improve its regulation of the aged care sector in order to prevent any future similar sudden closures of residential aged care facilities”, he said on Thursday. The committee has recommended the government explore all options to allow Earle Haven residents to return, and that the state government look to strengthen evacuation planning for similar events. It has called on the federal government to establish a vetting processes in relation to sub-contractor relationships and to make them equally accountable as providers for meeting quality and safety standards. The committee wants the federal government to better share information about known red flags with state and territory governments, to increase penalties for non-compliance and set up an independent Aged Care Commissioner to oversee the sector. Australian Associated Press

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