Aged care facility located in Berry, NSW, is now the 5th Bupa facility to be sanctioned this year, after the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency identified issues with non-compliance, that have yet to be released.
Berry Bupa is the newest addition to a litany of indiscretions by Bupa facilities over the last few years including seven facilities that have current notices of non compliance, to go with the five facilities that are currently sanctioned.
According to the government’s My Aged Care framework, the Department of Health may implement sanctions on a facility if there is severe risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of someone receiving aged care services, or if a provider has received a Notice of Non-Compliance but has not fixed the problem in an agreed period of time.
A spokesperson for Bupa has apologised to the residents of the Berry care home along with their families, and conceded that the facility will now be forced to turn away new residents for at least a 6 month period.
“Bupa is committed to making significant improvements at the home and regaining the trust of our residents and their families, and this does not represent the high standards of aged care that Bupa stands for and that our residents deserve” the spokesperson said.
“Bupa Berry will not be admitting new residents for the next six months, as we focus on our current residents. Independent advisers have been appointed to help us work through the issues identified by the Quality Agency, and we are in the process of making the necessary improvements.”
While details about Bupa Berry’s non-compliance will not be released until after residents and relatives have been briefed, the frequency in which Bupa are accumulating infractions is worrying to say the least.
As one of the largest private providers of residential aged care, Bupa facilities have been entrusted with the wellbeing of a sizeable portion of Australia’s most vulnerable citizens. Meaning that any systemic failings could potentially compromise the care of many.
Nurses and Midwives Association, general secretary Brett Holmes believes that these issues are the result of poor working conditions for the facility’s nurses.
“Many aged care providers are hiring less nurses,” he said.
“From 2003 to 2016, we’ve seen a 13 per cent reduction in qualified nursing staff working full-time in nursing homes while there was a 40 per cent increase in the number of residents needing ‘high care’.”
Mr Holmes believes that staffing cuts and the increased workload pressure being placed on current staff, are having a devastating effect on the welfare of Australians in all residential aged care facilities. And that staff from other Bupa facilities had previously reached out to complain.
“Chronic understaffing has seen a 400 percent increase in preventable deaths of elderly Australians in residential aged care, with hundreds dying from falls, choking and suicide.”
“At some other Bupa sites around NSW, members have expressed concerns to us regarding increased workload pressures following cuts to nursing hours, ongoing bullying, harassment and serious safety risks arising from violent incidents,” he said.
In wake of another facility sanction, Bupa has appointed former Health Services Commissioner of Victoria, Beth Wilson, to advocate for residents and families of the Berry facility.
“Ms Wilson has been talking with residents and families across a number of our homes to consider how to improve our focus on what matters to residents, and their families. Ms Wilson will be attending the Berry care home in the coming weeks,” the Bupa spokesperson said.
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