Revealed: The COVID-19 failures of our nursing homes

 

 

Fourteen nursing homes in NSW failed to meet crucial standards, including infection control, during the first coronavirus wave, leaving operators scrambling to fix "significant" issues before another outbreak.

The Aged Care Quality Commission stung 104 homes with noncompliance notices nationally between March 1 and May 31, naming 29 where "significant improvements" were needed - 14 of which were in NSW.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal all of the facilities named across the state did not fully comply with the "personal care and clinical care" standard, including seven that failed infection control requirements.

Nine of the homes did not meet the "organisational governance" standard.

 

Anglicare's Newmarch House at Caddens in western Sydney was the most famous COVID breach, recording 19 deaths. Picture: Richard Dobson
Anglicare's Newmarch House at Caddens in western Sydney was the most famous COVID breach, recording 19 deaths. Picture: Richard Dobson

 

Aged Care Quality Commissioner Janet Anderson had identified these two standards as a good "indicator" of COVID-19 preparedness.

It comes as counsel assisting the aged care royal commission Peter Rozen yesterday (MON) revealed there was no national co-ordinated plan to help the sector deal with COVID-19 despite the "high risk" posed to the elderly.

"While there was undoubtedly a great deal done to prepare the Australian health sector more generally for the pandemic, the evidence will reveal that neither the Commonwealth Department of Health nor the aged care regulator developed a COVID-19 plan specifically for the aged care sector," he said.

But Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said each facility was required to have its own plan.

"Every residential aged care facility under the accreditation requirements is expected to have infection controls in place and to have plans for when a pandemic occurs," Prof Kidd said.

 

Since the outbreak, Newmarch House staff have undergone special training. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Since the outbreak, Newmarch House staff have undergone special training. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins

 

Failures in clinical care and infection control resulted in Anglicare Newmarch House, where 19 residents died as a result of a coronavirus outbreak, being issued with a "notice to agree" to extra measures on May 6, including that it not admit any new residents and provide weekly reports to the Commission.

As of July 24, Anglicare has also been required to provide training to staff at its own expense.

An Anglicare Sydney spokesman said the operator was "working closely" with the regulator to address concerns raised.

The Commission imposed "sanctions" on Japara Wyong on the Central Coast on March 13, after identifying "an immediate and severe risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of care recipients".

The facility was ordered to provide "relevant training" at its expense within six months, and was made ineligible for Commonwealth subsidies for any new aged care residents in that time.

 

St Vincent's Aged Care facility in Heathcote, which was given an infection control warning.
St Vincent's Aged Care facility in Heathcote, which was given an infection control warning.

Japara Aged Care Services was contacted for comment.

Bupa Aged Care Dural, St Vincent's Care Services Heathcote, Marco Polo Aged Care Facility in Wollongong, The Whiddon Group's Glenfield - Easton Park home and Uniting Hawkesbury Richmond were also warned about infection control.

A Uniting spokeswoman said the provider was "very sorry" it fell short of standards, and has "worked hard" to implement a "continuous improvement plan" including additional hygiene and outbreak control training.

A spokesman for Bupa said "100 per cent" of staff at the Dural facility have since had infection control training.

Four HammondCare facilities - Miranda, Leighton Lodge, Princess Juliana Lodge and Waldegrave House - were notified for noncompliance with clinical and personal care standards, including that each resident gets best practice "safe and effective" care tailored to their needs.

 

The HammondCare facility in Miranda was one of four fined over lacking personal care standards.
The HammondCare facility in Miranda was one of four fined over lacking personal care standards.

 

HammondCare's spokesman also said "comprehensive action plans" to address compliance issues were implemented "quickly" after receiving the warning.

RSL LifeCare's Governor Phillip Manor in Penrith and Bill Newton VC Gardens in Dubbo were also tapped for failing clinical and personal care and governance standards.

A spokesman said RSL LifeCare took "immediate and conclusive steps" to resolve the concerns.

 

Labor frontbencher Julie Collins has called for full transparency over the issue. Picture: Fiona Harding
Labor frontbencher Julie Collins has called for full transparency over the issue. Picture: Fiona Harding

 

A spokeswoman for Whiddon Group said its facility at Easton Park had "worked hard" to fix the issues raised by the Commission, with no further problems identified in later reviews.

Labor's aged care spokeswoman Julie Collins said NSW families deserved "full transparency" about compliance notices issued to homes in the state, calling on the Commission to name everyone.

"(The) aged care regulator must be transparent and be able to assure residents in NSW nursing homes and their loved ones that facilities are safe," she said.

In a statement the Commissioner, Ms Anderson, said the regulator was "committed to increasing transparency of information about the outcomes of its regulatory activities".

"The Commission has commenced publication of a register of all noncompliance decisions … (which) will continue to be updated on a fortnightly basis."

"The Commission continues to monitor all complaints received about aged care services."

Originally published as Revealed: The COVID-19 failures of our nursing homes