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Call for improvements to nursing home legislation

The South Australian nursing home which came to the nation's attention when a care worker was secretly filmed assaulting 89-year-old resident Clarence Hausler, has achieved a perfect score during a reassessment by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA).
Industry peakbody ACS encourages the Australian Government to work with providers to identify possible improvements to the legislative instruments governing quality in aged care
Industry peakbody ACS encourages the Australian Government to work with providers to identify possible improvements to the legislative instruments governing quality in aged care

Mitcham Residential Care Facility has had its accreditation extended for two years after passing 44 out of 44 standards which assessed the systemic care of residents living at the facility.

“We decided to conduct a full review audit of the home, including speaking at length with Ms Hausler and listening to her concerns,” a spokesperson of AACQA confirms.

“Our assessors assessed the home across all the Accreditation Standards including human resources (including recruitment procedures and police checks), clinical care, comments and complaints, emotional support and privacy and dignity.

“We also looked at how complaints or adverse events are investigated and responded to, continuous improvement, awareness of behaviours and mandatory reporting.”

Over the course of three days, the agency interviewed 51 people, including 18 residents/their families, 29 staff and 3 external professionals and found that the home meets all of the Accreditation Standards.

The home remains accredited until 11 October 2018.

“While the incidence of abuse by this carer was abhorrent and inexcusable, there was no evidence of fault with the home’s procedures and systems. The feedback from the residents, families and staff confirmed this,” the spokesperson continues.

The AACQA confirms it will continue to monitor the home with unannounced visits – as it does with all aged care homes.

“And we act on any information we receive,” the spokesperson says. “No accreditation or compliance monitoring system could pick up the type of individual actions that we saw reported in this case. It was rightly reported to the police and dealt with as a criminal matter by the appropriate authorities.”

Industry peak body Aged & Community Services (ACS) points out the elder abuse incident occurred in September 2015 and was related to the behaviour of one care worker who is no longer employed.

AACQA conducted its audit earlier this month and made its decision on 17 August 2016.

In response to the incident, the Mitcham Residential Care Facility released a statement saying “We were shocked, concerned and saddened to learn of the incident in September 2015. This was a rogue act by someone who has now been criminally prosecuted.

"This conduct is not tolerated by our organisation and is completely at odds with the care, dedication and commitment displayed by the over 4,500 nurses, carers and other staff across our homes every day. As soon as we became aware of the incident, the individual was immediately suspended and we have assisted with the police investigation which has since led to a conviction.”

The care worker was convicted for aggravated assault and served three weeks in jail.

ACS highlights there is no evidence residents are at risk now and ACS CEO Melissa Centofanti, encourages the Australian Government to work with providers to identify possible improvements to the legislative instruments governing quality in aged care.

“Our members are committed to providing high-quality care to all their residents, and are keen to work with government to ensure ongoing standards of care,” she says. “The standard of our members’ residential facilities is consistently high. The safety and quality of life for residents is the number one priority for aged services providers and any allegations of abuse and neglect are taken very seriously.”

ACS acknowledges the complexity of the situation and is working together with industry leaders to determine a way forward.

Clarence Hausler’s daughter Noleen, who put the tiny spy camera inside her father’s private room, told FIVEaa breakfast she was dumbfounded by the result.

“So long as it’s got the policy, the standard, the proper practice in place -- from the perspective of the accreditation agency, they have done their job,” she says, but went on to say she wasn’t surprised.

“Having a nursing background, as far as accreditation goes, so long as you’ve got all the ‘T’s crossed and the ‘I’s dotted … it seems to be that’s ok,” says Ms Hausler. “What’s written on paper certainly doesn’t mean that’s either been delivered - or delivered properly.”

The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner confirms it continues to work with Ms Hausler around her concerns of the home’s management.

If anyone has concerns about the safety and wellbeing of any older Australians especially those receiving care, contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner on 1800 550 552.

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