Bundaberg, Laidley aged care centres face probe

AGED care centres at Bundaberg and Laidley are being investigated by authorities following complaints of abuse and neglect.

The Aged Care Quality Agency started investigating the Kepnock Grove Retirement Centre in Bundaberg after reports of underfeeding, poor management of health complaints and patients assaulting other patients.

In a statement released on Monday, Federal Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield said a notice of non-compliance was issued to Kepnock Grove operators last Wednesday, ordering them to address deficiencies within 14 days.

"Any kind of mistreatment of older Australians in the care of an aged care facility is completely unacceptable,'' Senator Fifield said.

"When instances of abuse occur, or are alleged to occur, there are a number of robust regulatory mechanisms in place that will take effect.

"The Government has taken regulatory action in relation to two facilities run by the Baptist Union of Queensland.

In February, senior management of Carinity, which operates Bundaberg's Kepnock Grove aged care facility, responded to serious allegations of abuse of residents but denies a cover-up following an internal investigation.

CEO Jon Campbell confirmed the former manager and the regional manager of Kepnock Grove were no longer employed by Carinity and had been referred to the office of the Queensland Health Ombudsman.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Carinity said it "strenuously rejects the report from the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency on which a sanction decision was made against our Karinya aged care facility yesterday.

"We have been caring for Queenslanders for 65 years and this is our first sanction. We will be pursuing every avenue of appeal to overturn this decision.

"I want to assure our residents and their families there is absolutely no serious risk to their wellbeing.

"There is no aged-care provider anywhere in the country who would be able to withstand the kind of blitz Carinity has been subjected to by the Agency over the past fortnight. 

"The decision by the Department of Social Services at 1.12am Saturday is based on factually incorrect information in an Agency report and is the culmination of a flawed process driven by a media agenda.

"This was confirmed today by the Department which advised us four hours before posting the statement on its website that the "media will run tomorrow Monday".

"Over the past fortnight eight of Carinity's nine aged care facilities have undergone simultaneous audits as a result of sensational false claims in The Australian newspaper.

"None of these claims have been substantiated despite the unprecedented investigations by the Department and the Agency.

"We are committed to working positively with the Department and have agreed to immediately implement their recommendations while we challenge the Agency's report.

"All Carinity's aged care facilities are currently accredited and we remain committed to delivering the highest quality of care to our residents."


Kepnock Grove Retirement Centre

As a result of allegations made against Kepnock Grove Retirement Centre aged care facility in Bundaberg  last month, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency has instigated a comprehensive review of the facility's  operations.  

On 26 February, the Department of Social Services issued a Notice of Non-Compliance requiring the
provider to address identified deficiencies at this facility. 

The provider now has 14 days to respond to the Notice, and depending on that response, the Department  can issue further formal directions if warranted.

Sanctions can be imposed if the provider does not effectively address these issues.

Karinya Village Care Centre

The Quality Agency's review was also expanded to include all facilities operated by the Baptist Union of  Queensland.  

The Quality Agency has visited each of their facilities over the last week and conducted a full review audit  on eight of the nine facilities with an unannounced site visit at the remaining facility. 

"On 28 February, my Department received notification of a serious and immediate risk from the Quality Agency in relation to Karinya.

"As a result, my Department imposed sanctions on Karinya immediately."

Karinya is located in the town of Laidley and provides care for 59 residents. 

These sanctions will require the Baptist Union of Queensland to:

•  Appoint an adviser approved by the Commonwealth within 5 days. The adviser will be required to
be in place for 6 months.
•  Train staff on blood glucose management, dietary requirements, behaviour management and post-
falls management clinical assessment within 3 months.

The current sanctions will remain in place for up to six months.    

"Commonwealth law allows for further action, including revocation of the Baptist Union of Queensland's approved provider status, if deemed necessary to ensure the ongoing safety of residents.

"During this time, Karinya will receive no new funding for new residents.

"In addition, senior clinical staff of the Department of Social Services arrived on site this weekend to work in  tandem with Quality Agency Officers to monitor service provision to residents. 

"They will be able to identify  and refer any additional concerns to enable further regulatory action to be taken if warranted.

"The Provider will be required to arrange meetings with all residents and families so they are aware of the  process and are supported throughout this time.

"Departmental officers will attend these meetings which are expected to occur early this week.

"My absolute priority is the safety of residents and, while I do not want to cause unnecessary alarm, a swift  response was required. 

"The actions taken this weekend show that allegations against aged care providers are taken seriously and  that the review audit process is working to protect residents as intended.

"The process is continuing with on-site assessments of all facilities now completed.   

"Over this coming week the Quality Agency will finalise their audit reports and recommendations.   

"The approved provider will then be given an opportunity to respond before the Quality Agency makes  accreditation decisions for each home audited. 

"DSS is also continuing its investigation into the quality of care across the Baptist Union of Queensland that  commenced last month.

"The result of this investigation will be made public in coming weeks.

"If any further compliance measures are required, we will act swiftly to protect all residents."

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