Pioneer Lodge has officially failed its audit as published in a report by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency yesterday.

Of the 44 quality standards that must be met, the aged care facility failed 13 of them, including clinical care, medication, pain management and nutrition. This all occurred during an unannounced spot check last month.

The Blue Care facility is already under fire for cutting it’s staff down from 24 to 16 over the last year.

The report read: “The home does not ensure all care recipients are as free as possible from pain”.

“Management is not able to demonstrate care recipients receive adequate nutrition and hydration.”

“Staff practices do not support the safe and correct administration of medication … slips and falls are not always documented.”

Blue Care’s Response

A Blue Care spokesperson said, according to the NewsMail, that they were taking “immediate action” to address “process and practice failures” seen at Pioneer Lodge.

“Blue Care senior management and staff have been spending considerable time on-site working closely with external advisers engaged by Blue Care to conduct a detailed operational review and have already commenced implementing improvements to systems, processes, practices and amenities to address the issues identified,” he said

Because of the damning audit report, the Blue Care spokesman said that the facility has now brought in a senior industry nurse advisor

“Clinical nursing coverage has also been increased at the facility,” he said.

Statewide Issues Regarding Aged Care

This issues seen at Pioneer Lodge are not unique to the Blue Care facility. Rather, it was found that more than two dozen facilities, including two run by the state government, failed to meet standards during the past year.

Audits by Australian Aged Care Quality Agency found a number of issues, including behavioural management and the use of restraints.

Other aged care residents complained that they were not satisfied with how their rights to privacy, dignity and confidentiality were managed.

There were also a number of failures in mandatory reporting of alleged or suspected reportable assaults and related record keeping.

Other facilities failed to manage medication safely and correctly, and therefore were not able to ensure all care recipients were as free as possible from pain.

However, it should be noted that many of these facilities passed the follow-up audits that were later in December.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union secretary Beth Mohle yesterday warned the failed audits were “the tip of the iceberg”.

Aged care peak bodies say quality not negotiable in aged care

The peak bodies representing Australia’s aged care industry have said that the high quality of residential aged care is not negotiable, noting that a number of concerns regarding several Queensland facilities have been raised in the media today.

The chief executives of peak bodies Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Sean Rooney and Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Pat Sparrow, said all within the industry have a role to play in continuously maintaining and improving on high standards in quality care and service.

“We recognise the challenges faced by providers striving every day to deliver care that consistently meets the standards and expectations of residents and the community. Age services providers, government and the wider community all share a desire for a high-performing aged care sector.

“Failures identified must be addressed to retain the confidence across older Australians, their families and the communities concerned. We work closely with our memberships to provide support to facilities seeking this continuous improvement,” the CEO’s said.

Ms Sparrow and Mr Rooney said the industry is also working closely with the Government to respond more broadly to quality concerns including the rollout of a single aged care quality framework and progression towards a new independent aged care commission.

“Collectively, we need to translate these developments into appropriate actions and outcomes that will address identified shortcomings and contribute to continuous improvement and community confidence,” Ms Sparrow said.

“Our commitment to ensuring this outcome is emphatic. Our country needs an aged care system, including accreditation, that assures both the community and providers, of the safety, wellbeing and quality of life for older Australians living in residential aged care.

“Australia’s current quality framework is resulting in the overwhelming majority of Australians in aged care and their families receiving high quality care, support and services that meet national standards,” Mr Rooney said.

The peak bodies representing the nation’s aged-care providers said quality and standards in aged care are intrinsically linked to the industry’s workforce.

“We believe that the ongoing debate around staffing in aged care facilities would be better served by focusing on the quality of outcomes via optimising models of care for older Australians, rather than mandating staffing ratios.

“The basis for deciding on staffing levels and their skills mix needs to be driven by the actual care needs of individual residents.

“The aged care system we have is one that is overwhelmingly delivering the care that older Australians need and deserve. But it is also a system that recognises there are challenges and is committed to continuous improvement.

“A focus on clear, quality outcomes and innovation to drive new models of care, along with adequate and stable funding, and workforce development strategies, are among the highest priorities,” Ms Sparrow and Mr Rooney said.

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CarePage’s Responsible Care initiative seeks to promote dialogue and engagement between all stakeholders in the sector. The sector has faced a history of limited transparency and accountability due to structural challenges of the sector. These issues are often left unresolved and deferred through a sector wide systemic trend historically to openly engage and commit to improvements.  We believe that the sector requires a concerted effort to look beyond negative events and individual stories of distress however important these are, and for real change, to ask questions and accept answers focusing on constructive intent, innovation, cultural change, accountability and leadership rather than blame and avoidance.

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