The private aged care facility is owned by People Care and was operated by contracted aged care services provider, HelpStreet Group.
The private aged care facility ceased operation around 2pm on Thursday unexpectedly, with a remaining staff member making a call to emergency services.
The walkout resulted in 69 residents, many with dementia, being evacuated to nearby facilities and hospitals.
Patient records, medication, computers and cleaning supplies were allegedly removed from the facility.
Confused paramedics and medical professionals were unsure how to treat and care for the evacuated residents due to absent patient records.
HelpStreet Group have alleged their staff have not been paid for over a month and previous payments have always been late.
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator Richard Colbeck expressed concern and anger about the Earle Haven residents who were completely abandoned by staff.
“It appears that this incident arose from a contractual dispute between the approved aged care provider and a sub-contractor who was providing administrative, nursing, catering and other support services,” Minister Colbeck says.
“It appears that the sub-contractor, without notice, withdrew all services and proceeded to remove equipment from site, leaving the facility unsuitable for residents to occupy.”
“I express my sincere appreciation for the assistance of Queensland Health, local emergency services, and other aged care providers who made facilities available to accommodate the residents.”
Minister Colbeck expressed his appreciation to the staff who remained on-site and alerted emergency services and is pleased that all residents were relocated safely.
However, he believes the contract dispute escalating to yesterday’s situation is “simply outrageous.”
The Health Department will be using all its resources to investigate the circumstances and to provide support to affected residents and their families to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
Minister Colbeck says, “I will be looking to bring the full force possible of action onto those who put residents of Earle Haven in such a terrible position – it is simply unacceptable.”
Queensland Health is concerned over the unexpected closure of the facility and understands this is very distressing for residents and their families.
Queensland Health Minister, Steven Miles says, “It should never have happened, it should never have come to this.”
The State Health Department has stepped in to provide short-term assistance and coordinated the initial response to the issue with Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service and Queensland Ambulance Service.
All levels of Government will be reviewing the case and investigating who was responsible for the decision of the mass walkout.
The circumstances around the situation will be examined by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Police are also investigating if the walkout is considered a criminal act.
People Care and HelpStreet Group weren’t available for comment.