Earle Haven report tabled in Qld Parliament

The report of the committee’s investigation into the closure of the Earle Haven aged care facility was tabled in the Queensland Parliament today.

 

The Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee’s investigation followed the sudden and unprecedented closure of two residential aged care facilities at the Earle Haven Retirement Village at Nerang on 11 July 2019.

 

The closure followed a business dispute between People Care and Help Street, a company that was engaged to provide services at Earle Haven.

 

The closure saw almost 70 elderly and vulnerable residents removed from Earle Haven by Queensland Ambulance Service officers.

 

Committee chair, Mr Aaron Harper MP, told the Parliament that the sudden closure “should never have happened.

 

“The Earle Haven debacle has highlighted the disastrous consequences that occur when a nursing home suddenly ceases providing care to its residents.

 

“The committee has taken the bold step of making recommendations directly to the Federal government.

 

“These recommendations 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”, Mr Harper said.

 

The closure came after regulators gave People Care ‘a string of second chances’ over many years to correct problems with the facility.

 

“Closer attention also needs to be paid to operating conditions in nursing homes and to ensure that residential aged care providers have proper disaster plans in place in case their residents ever need to be evacuated at short notice”, Mr Harper said.

 

Both the approved provider for the facility –People Care Pty Ltd -and the facility operator –Help Street –come in for strong criticism in the committee’s report.

 

As part of its inquiries into this issue, the committee received submissions from key stakeholders and then held three days of hearings. This included two days of hearings on the Gold Coast where the committee heard from former Earle Haven staff members and family members of former residents. The committee also heard from Mr Arthur Miller, Managing Director of People Care Pty Ltd.

 

Copies of the committee report are available from the Table Office and from the parliament’s online Tabled Paper’s Database - https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Documents/TableOffice/TabledPapers/2019/5619T2173.pdf

 

The Parliamentary committee's recommendations are:

 

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that all options be explored to allow the residents evacuated from the facility to return to their home.

 

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the state government explore options to strengthen evacuation planning measures for residential aged care facilities, in consultation with federal government agencies responsible for aged care, to ensure they adequately cover the evacuation of residents and staff from facilities due to the sudden loss of care services.

 

Recommendation 3

The committee calls on the federal government to immediately institute business continuity checks, including equivalent vetting processes in relation to sub-contractor relationships, to prevent any recurrence of the Earle Haven disaster in other residential aged care facilities.

 

Recommendation 4

The committee calls on the federal government to make sub-contractors equally accountable alongside approved providers for meeting quality and safety standards in the aspects of care they are sub contracted to deliver.

 

Recommendation 5

The committee calls on the federal government to better share ‘red flag’ information about operators of residential aged care facilities with state and territory governments and other regulatory bodies to prevent any recurrence of the Earle Haven disaster in other residential aged care facilities.

 

Recommendation 6

The committee calls on the federal government to improve transparency by implementing improvements in aged care sector reporting.

 

Recommendation 7

The committee calls on the federal government to increase penalties for significant non-compliance with quality and safety standards and review the capacity and powers of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to effectively undertake this role.

 

Recommendation 8

The committee calls on the federal government to set up an independent Aged Care Commissioner to provide oversight of the aged care system in Australia.

 

Recommendation 9

The committee calls on the federal government to immediately review and redesign its aged care funding model to guarantee the ongoing financial viability of the aged care sector, ensuring the funding model reflects the actual cost of care and makes adequate provision for the increasingly complex care needs of aged care residents.

 

Recommendation 10

The committee calls on the federal government to ensure that a redesigned funding model includes an increase in wages for aged care employees with a long-term aim to achieve wage parity with other health care sectors.

 

Recommendation 11

The committee calls on the federal government to mandate the introduction of minimum nurse, care worker and support worker skill mix ratios and minimum average daily resident care hours in private aged care facilities.

 

Recommendation 12

The committee recommends that the federal government urgently examine and reform practices regarding physical and chemical restraints, and mandate staffing levels that will avoid these practices being used as substitutes for appropriate level of care and supervision.

 

See also “Viability warning: New analysis shows almost 200 aged care providers housing up to 50,000 older Australians are at risk”.

 

28 November 2019.