The Queensland facility at the centre of allegations of abuse, mismanagement and cover-up has been under investigation by the Aged Care Complaints Scheme since 22 January and a full review of the facility’s operations by the Aged Care Quality Agency is underway, the Federal Government has said.
Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield said the allegations made against Kepnock Grove in The Australian newspaper on Monday were “deeply concerning” and Quality Agency assessors were on-site to review the facility’s operations.
Carinity, which acquired the Kepnock Grove facility in April 2013, strongly rejected any suggestion it had engaged in a cover-up and said it was fully cooperating with the department’s investigations.
Senator Fifield said as part of its standard processes, the Quality Agency will also review the performance history of other facilities operated by the Baptist Union of Queensland, which trades as Carinity.
“Any kind of mistreatment of older Australians in the care of an aged care facility is completely unacceptable,” Senator Fifield said in a statement on Monday.
He said the Aged Care Complaints Scheme conducted an unannounced visit to the facility on 22 January following a complaint made to the scheme, and the provider has been working to resolve the issues.
However, given the gravity of the new allegations published in The Australian, the Quality Agency visited the facility on Monday to conduct a comprehensive review.
The full findings of the Quality Agency review will be published on the agency’s website.
The Australian published a series of articles alleging cases of neglect, physical and emotional abuse, bashings by residents, untreated pain, and fabricated reports to cover-up serious incidents at the facility.
Carinity’s CEO Jon Campbell said he was confident the organisation had complied with all reporting requirements. He said the claim that bashings had led to the deaths of residents was unfounded and there was no evidence to support a claim of serious injury attributable to neglect.
“We categorically reject the allegation that Carinity has engaged in any sort of cover-up. We take our reporting obligations extremely seriously,” he said in a statement.
“When the allegations came to our attention we immediately commenced an investigation and during the course of that investigation we re-visited those obligations to ensure we were meeting our responsibilities.”
Mr Campbell said following an internal investigation the manager of Kepnock Grove left the organisation on 18 December. The regional manager in charge has also ceased employment with Carinity and both former employees have been referred to the Office of the Health Ombudsman in Queensland, he said.
After the internal investigation the organisation also increased the number of clinical staff employed at the facility, reviewed complaints handling processes and conducted a case review for every resident that died at the facility since 2013, he said.
“We have reviewed the clinical care for each resident individually, increased resourcing and made a range of changes to our systems and procedures.”
The Office of the Health Ombudsman confirmed to AAA that it received notifications from Carinity on Monday morning in relation to two former staff members.
“We are currently assessing these notifications to determine the most appropriate course of action, including whether some matters should be referred to the Aged Care Complaints Scheme.
“While the Health Ombudsman has powers to deal with complaints about the provision of health services in Queensland, other matters relating to the quality of care or services delivered to people in aged care facilities is covered under the Aged Care Complaints Scheme.”