Blue Care’s Bundaberg facility is already under fire for issues found in a recent spot check.

In December, a spot inspection by The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) uncovered revealed 19 issues – including failing to respond to a resident’s cries for help and failing to feed or underfeeding residents.

Now Blue Care have released a statement about the situation at their Pioneer Lodge facility.

“This review has identified that some employee practices, facility processes and amenities have fallen below Blue Care’s internal standards and several Accreditation Standards of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency,” the statement read.

Blue Care Group Executive for Regional and Remote Services, Alan Wilson has said that Blue Care “take all matters relating to the quality of care and service provision at our aged care facilities very seriously.

“We have taken immediate action to address process and staff practice failures at Pioneer, implementing a range of immediate changes and improvements,” Mr Wilson said.

“We apologise for the quality failures identified at Pioneer and would like to reassure the Bundaberg community that the safety and well-being of Pioneer residents is our number one priority.”

“We are strongly committed to ensuring Pioneer residents receive care consistent with Blue Care’s high standards.”

“While the vast majority of employees at Pioneer do an excellent job of complying with Blue Care’s quality standards and management processes, it is clear that several employees were not fulfilling their duties in accordance with our standards and expectations.”

“While we cannot share details of employee conduct, these matters are now being dealt with.”

“As a matter of priority we have engaged senior independent nursing experts to work at Pioneer and oversee immediate improvements to staff practices, processes and site amenities.”

“The situation at Pioneer is highly abnormal for Blue Care and inconsistent with the high standards of management and practice observed at our other facilities.”

“We are taking immediate and decisive action to rectify the relevant management and practice failures at Pioneer.

“Previous claims that staffing levels at Pioneer had adversely impacted the provision and quality of care at the facility, are false.”

“Pioneer’s staffing levels have always been either above or in line with Australian residential aged care facility averages.”

“We will continue working collaboratively with the AACQA to ensure our Pioneer facility returns to full compliance with the AACQA accreditation standards as swiftly as possible.”

In a statement from Nick Ryan, CEO, Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, he confirmed to HelloCare that The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency conducted a review audit at the co-located Blue Care Pioneer Hostel and Nursing Home services in Bundaberg in December.

“As required under the Quality Agency’s regulatory framework, the assessment team provided Blue Care with a written report of major findings of the audit. This report is not the final audit outcome. Due process allows for the service to respond to the findings and the decision maker to consider any additional information.”

The report from this audit will be available online from February, 2018.

“The audit report will outline findings against each of the 44 expected outcomes of the Accreditation Standards. The Quality Agency will also publish a decision on whether to re-accredit, vary or revoke accreditation of the services.”

“The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency conducts ongoing compliance monitoring at all aged care services including at Blue Care services through the delivery of an unannounced visit program. These visits can occur at any time.”

Nurses Union Response

Sanda Eales, Acting Secretary of Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) has said that Blue Care “are putting elderly lives at risk”.

“This once reputable aged care provider recently cut more than 60 per cent of their aged care Enrolled Nurses in Bundaberg – and other nurses elsewhere,” she said.

“It’s not surprising that during a recent Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) spot inspection, when an elderly resident was found hanging out of bed calling for help, Blue Care was found guilty of more than 19 breaches.”

With additional AACQA reports still pending, the nurses union fear for the job cuts in other Blue Care facilities.

“It’s believed Blue Care cuts have occurred in Bundaberg, Toowoomba, Maleny, Mareeba, Kingaroy, Rothwell, Bli Bli and Ipswich. It’s feared they will continue state-wide.”

“Today Blue Care distributed a media release suggesting staff who survived the cuts were to blame for the breaches that followed.”

Eales says this “is as offensive as it is untrue”.

“Staff left in the wake of Blue Care’s ongoing nurse cull are desperately trying to care for their residents. They are going above and beyond to attempt to do more with less.”

“However, it is Blue Care management, who continue to axe nurse numbers state-wide, who are responsible for the quality of care and life Blue Care residents receive.”

The Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) have urged the media, relatives and the Queensland public to hold Blue Care accountable – and to check on the wellbeing of loved ones in their care.

“We will continue to campaign for Federal legislative change to make safe aged care staff levels law and to protect our elders.”

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