The owner of a Gold Coast elderly care center which abruptly closed its doors last month had raised continuous “red flags” since its approval more than 10 years ago and had been subject to sanctions , said the Royal Commission on the Care of the Elderly.
- Royal Commission on Care of the Elderly focuses on the sudden closure of Gold Coast Earle Haven nursing home last month
- Authorities had to find new homes for 68 elderly residents, some with dementia
- Commission has learned that penalties have been imposed on owner People Care due to poor compliance record and complaints
The brutal closure of Earle Haven Retirement Village in Nerang on July 11 left 68 elderly residents, some suffering from dementia, homeless after being forced to evacuate to other residential facilities and hospitals.
The Brisbane Royal Commission hearing was also informed that the global CEO of elderly care entrepreneur HelpStreet, Kristofer Bunker, emailed Earle Haven owner Arthur Miller the day before departure. staff, demanding payment of nearly $ 4 million for “breach of contract.”
“We were concerned that without payment from People Care HelpStreet could not negotiate,” Bunker said at Monday’s hearing.
The royal commission learned that HelpStreet had never been under administration.
It was said the day before the evacuations from Earle Haven, HelpStreet has removed the servers containing patient records – so they can be upgraded to a “secure” site.
On the day the retirement village was closed, staff called the triple-0, asking authorities to come forward and police were greeted with chaotic scenes.
More than 32 paramedics, nurses, doctors and staff from Queensland Health, as well as the Queensland Minister of Health, came to the village to organize transfers.
Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic Cary Strong told the commission upon arriving in Earle Haven that a moving truck was in the driveway.
He said staff were arguing loudly in the lobby and the cabinets for medical fluids and cleaning supplies had been emptied.
“There were a few residents when I walked into the lobby,” Mr. Strong said.
“There was a man in a wheelchair – who was being taken care of – his urine bag was dragged as he tried to push himself into the lobby.
“It was in the midst of an argument between several staff members.”
Mr Strong said he requested patient records but was told the computer containing them had been removed from the premises, so paper records were provided.
“The young woman I asked [with the records], to her credit, she actually clung to those two files, ”he said.
Within eight hours, the majority of residents were transferred to a dozen other nursing homes and three were rushed to hospital.
Lorraine Cook’s husband John was one of the Earle Haven residents evacuated on July 11.
She told ABC Radio on Monday afternoon that her husband stayed at the nearby Nerang Nursing Center, but asked her daily to “come home.”
“I come in and over there and there are other patients from Earle Haven who say, ‘When are we going back? When are we going back?’ I said, ‘I can’t tell you anything’. “
“It is not safe for our residents”
The commission played the triple zero call – made by the facility’s clinical director, Telecia Tuccori – which triggered the evacuation.
“I have to act like a fat [evacuation], she said on the call.
“We have just entered administration… it is no longer safe for our residents to be here.”
Ms Tuccori told the operator she “never had to do this before” and said “it’s hilarious”.
Mr Miller told the royal commission his relationship with HelpStreet broke earlier this year after complaints from residents about their care.
Mr Miller said his lawyers advised him to give HelpStreet one month’s notice to end their contract, which reportedly expired in August.
He said the intention was “so that we can rehire the employees at People Care and continue to care for the residents appropriately.”
Mr Miller denied telling workers on the day of the evacuations that they were providing “garbage” care and that he would not pay for it.
He also asked why he had not been consulted on alternative options for resident housing.
“If the health department came to talk to me, we can organize ourselves to keep the residents – we had volunteer staff,” he said.
“So far I don’t have an answer there.”
“Indications of incapacity” to provide care to the elderly
When the bids opened on the first day of the hearings in Brisbane on Monday morning, senior assistant counsel Mr Peter Gray QC, said problems with the supplier had lasted since 2007.
Mr Gray said the provider had shown “indications of an inability” to provide care to the elderly since 2015 and was under intense regulatory scrutiny.
“The department and the [Australian Aged Care] Quality Agency both monitored People Care very closely in 2016-2017, including with regard to concerns about financial arrangements, ”he said.
“The Director of People Care has shown low levels of engagement and cooperation with these processes, including related complaints… sanctions have been imposed.”