Earle Haven aged care facility in Nerang. Picture: Jerad Williams
Earle Haven aged care facility in Nerang. Picture: Jerad Williams

Nursing home slammed over ‘deplorable’ treatment

A DAMNING federal inquiry into a Gold Coast nursing home has slammed the "deplorable'' treatment of vulnerable residents, including "high levels of chemical and physical restraints'', and called for sweeping changes to ensure it never happens again.

Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck has vowed to implement all 23 of the recommendations of the Carnell inquiry into the Earle Haven home at Nerang, which closed suddenly in July, forcing the emergency night-time evacuation of 69 residents.

The inquiry, headed by former ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell, condemned the actions of Earle Haven operator People Care and sub-contractor Help Street.

 

Earle Haven aged care facility in Nerang. Picture: Jerad Williams
Earle Haven aged care facility in Nerang. Picture: Jerad Williams

It found that elderly residents were physically caught up in "disgraceful … hostile confrontations'' between the two companies that "allowed commercial considerations and personal animosity to override their responsibility to the people in their care''.

Earle Haven, owned by ­millionaire Gold Coast businessman Arthur Miller, closed abruptly on July 11 amid a ­bitter contractual dispute between his company People Care and UK firm Help Street, which had been brought in to run the facility.

 

A fleet of ambulances had to be used to evacuate the Earle Haven residents. Picture: Nigel Hallett
A fleet of ambulances had to be used to evacuate the Earle Haven residents. Picture: Nigel Hallett

 

A fleet of ambulances had to be used to evacuate the residents after Help Street demanded $3.9 million from People Care before calling in removalists. The inquiry found that Help Street "appears to have resolved to do as much damage as possible on the way out'' and adopted a "scorched earth'' policy - seizing residents' records, stripping furnishings, crockery, cutlery and health supplies and even up-ending personal belongings on beds to remove bedside tables.

"Numerous hostile confrontations occurred between employees of Help Street and People Care during the course of July 11," the report found.

The inquiry found that People Care had a "history of regulatory non-compliance'' with the Aged Care Act, but an inspection on Earle Haven in late-June missed "warning signs'', including a "very high level'' of chemical and physical restraints being used on residents, as well as "significant'' malnutrition and dehydration.

 

Earle Haven, owned by ­millionaire Gold Coast businessman Arthur Miller, pictured, closed abruptly on July 11. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Earle Haven, owned by ­millionaire Gold Coast businessman Arthur Miller, pictured, closed abruptly on July 11. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

 

Senator Colbeck said he would "work methodically'' to implement all the recommendations in the report and push for legislation to beef-up the powers of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

"We owe it to the residents and families caught up in this tragedy to do all that we can to prevent situations like Earle Haven occurring again," Mr Colbeck said.

Meanwhile, a Leading Aged Care Services Australia report released yesterday found almost 200 aged-care facilities were at an unacceptably high risk of going broke.



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