For-profit aged care provider Bupa is committed to taking action to meet the standards expected by its residents and the community, its interim chief operating officer tells Australian Ageing Agenda.
The national provider, which has more than 70 residential aged care facilities, received its ninth sanction in less than 6 months on 7 December 2018 in relation to its facility in Eden, New South Wales.
Sanctions can be applied to individual aged care facilities if the Department of Health believes there is a risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of anyone at the facility or if it has not rectified an issue in the agreed period following a non-compliance notice.
A sanction usually means a facility cannot accept new residents for a period of six months.
Bupa Aged Care Australia interim chief operating officer Carolyn Cooper said Bupa was committed to making things right.
“Where Bupa has not met the standards we set for ourselves or the standards our residents and the community expect and deserve, we are committed to taking action and putting things right,” Ms Cooper told AAA.
Ms Cooper said action has been taken to address the issues raised by the sanctions.
“We are bolstering staff numbers with additional staff commencing work at homes around Australia,” she said.
Bupa is known for its delivery of quality care, she said.
“We have a strong record of delivering quality care and support to thousands of aged care residents across Australia.
“We have owned and operated aged care homes in Australia for over 10 years,” Ms Cooper said.
Prior to July 2018, Bupa Aged Care had not previously received any sanctions from the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the forerunner to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, which began operations on 1 January 2019 as a new one-stop shop to monitor aged care quality and compliance and handle consumer complaints (read more here).
Since then Bupa has also received sanctions at its facilities in Seaforth, Berry and Griffith in NSW, Traralgon, Berwick and Woodend in Victoria, Calwell in the ACT, and South Hobart in Tasmania.
Medication management was a failing across all nine sanctioned facilities while other common areas of non-compliance included clinical care and pain management (seven facilities) and behaviour management (six facilities), according to My Aged Care.
Other areas of non-compliance in the sanctioned facilities included human resource management, continence management, skin care, nutrition and hydration and leisure interests and activities.
Ms Cooper said Bupa had commenced work to rectify the issues and improve staff training.
“We are piloting an electronic medication management system and, if successful, we will look to extend this this to more of our homes. We are also working with our staff to enhance their training and continue to support them.
“We are always reviewing ways to enhance the care and support we provide to residents and how we can improve their experiences in our care homes,” Ms Cooper said.
Working to meet the standards
Bupa Australia is one of seven members of the Aged Care Guild, a peak body representing the largest for-profit residential providers.
The Aged Care Guild CEO Matthew Richter said the guild did not comment on active regulatory processes.
On the issue in general, he said the regulatory process was a safety net for providers, which allowed for correction and quality improvement.
“Facilities should be afforded the opportunity to learn and improve and what we don’t want to see is a facility experiencing repeat accreditation failures, particularly in relation to the same issues,” Mr Richter said.
It is the organisation’s responsibility to work closely with the regulator if it fails to meet the accreditation standards, he said.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission said it was committed to following up all notices of non-compliance.
“In every instance where there is a finding of non-compliance, we set out very clearly the timetable for improvement that the nursing home must meet to return to compliance,” a spokesperson from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission told AAA.
“Any instance of non-compliance with the aged care quality standards is one too many,” the spokesperson said.
If more than one issue of non-compliance is issued to the same provider, the commission may take this up with the CEO, the spokesperson said.
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