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Fresh allegations push Oakden closer to closure

The doors of the Oakden Nursing Home in South Australia may close sooner than first thought following two new claims of staff misconduct. 

Closure of the Makk and McLeay wards at the Oakden facility has been initiated in response to recent allegations (Source: Government of South Australia 'The Oakden Report')
Closure of the Makk and McLeay wards at the Oakden facility has been initiated in response to recent allegations (Source: Government of South Australia 'The Oakden Report')

Police are currently investigating two new claims of abusive behaviour towards patients from staff members of the Oakden facility, including the use of excessive force.

Both incidents were reported to management at the facility in the last week.

The latest incident reportedly involved a staff member who was allegedly witnessed using excessive force to prevent a resident passing through a doorway.

South Australian Mental Health Minister Leesa Vlahos has initiated the early closure of the Makk and McLeay wards at the Oakden facility in response to the allegations.

“In light of further incidents being brought to my attention, I have decided the previously planned transfer of residents over the next few months is inadequate and I am ordering this process to be brought forward,” Ms Vlahos says.

“I have no doubt the extra supervision of staff put in place following the Chief Psychiatrist’s report has played a significant role in identifying these recent incidents, however it has not prevented them from occurring.”

Ms Vlahos says while she would prefer to move residents to an alternative facility immediately, clinicians advised moving patients at this time would be harmful to their wellbeing.

Around a dozen staff members have been suspended since the independent review was commissioned into the treatment of patients at the facility late last year, while a further 11 staff members are currently under suspicion.

The review, led by South Australia’s Chief Psychiatrist Dr Aaron Groves, was released in April this year and recommended the facility be closed.

“Family members of current residents are being contacted as we speak. We also have a hotline number for families to contact regarding any concerns they have for their loved-ones,” says Ms Vlahos. “I reiterate that this Government has a zero tolerance approach to elder abuse.” Ms Vlahos came under sustained pressure in Question Time this week after news of the allegations broke, with the Opposition claiming she lacks the skills to drive change within the system and should resign.

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