More than 30 residents at Warrigal Warilla must undergo a complete health and medical review due to concerns raised by the nation’s aged care watchdog.
The Federal health department has slapped sanctions on the facility citing “an immediate and severe risk to the health, safety and well-being of care recipients” following information received by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC).
The health department had “serious concerns” in relation to six areas of health and personal care, including medication, pain and behavioural management and palliative care.
Additional failures which led to the decision to impose sanctions were in the vital areas of nutrition and hydration; emotional support; privacy and dignity and infection control.
“The health, safety and well-being of older people who reside in aged care services is of paramount importance to the government,” a health department spokesman said.
The action is another blow for the Warilla facility after a 48-year-old female staff member was charged in early January for allegedly assaulting five patients under her care between October and December. The woman will appear at Port Kembla Local Court on February 27.
Under the sanctions, the Arcadia St facility will not be eligible for federal funding for any new care recipients for six months. It also stands to lose its approval as an aged care provider unless it complies with all 44 national standards of care by July 16.
Warrigal has also been forced to appoint an advisor and administrator to help the home get back up to standard, and must provide training to all staff.
As well, Warrigal CEO, Mark Sewell said the facility had taken further measures to improve standards since the unannounced audit, which took place over six days early last month.
He said the Warilla facility had met all 44 standards in July last year, and he was confident all concerns would be addressed by this July.
“We are very sorry that this recent situation has developed so quickly over the December/ January holiday period and want to reassure our residents, their families and our staff, we are doing everything we can to turn this situation around as quickly as possible,” Mr Sewell said.
“… The special sanction period is for six months and means we wont be admitting any new residents to the home whilst we focus fully on the improvements to the health management of the residents who live at the home, especially the small number of residents the commission has asked us to focus on.
“We have confidence that we can turn this situation around very quickly.”
Mr Sewell said 31 residents had been specifically mentioned in the audit as needing improvement to their health management.
“All of these residents are having a complete health and medical review and we will be implementing every recommendation made by the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals,” he said.
The facility currently houses 82 residents ranging in age from 82 to 98, who are cared for by 117 staff.
“Their health conditions are complex and include dementia, high care, complex behaviours, dialysis and multi-faceted health issues,” Mr Sewell said.
Residents and relatives were informed of the health department’s decision at a meeting on January 30.
The health department and ACQSA are continuing to monitor the service.
ACQSA – which began operations on January 1, 2019 – will integrate and streamline the governance roles of the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, creating a new one-stop-shop.
It has received funding of almost $300 million over four years; including an additional $48.2 million to expand monitoring, secure aged care quality and employ a network of dozens of additional senior compliance officers.
The commission will be underpinned by a new aged care Charter of Rights and is set to enforce a new, single set of Quality Standards, the first upgrade of standards in 20 years.