Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Statement regarding allegations at Bundaberg aged care facility

The allegations made about the Kepnock Grove Retirement Centre aged care facility in Bundaberg are deeply concerning to the Government.

Any kind of mistreatment of older Australians in the care of an aged care facility is completely unacceptable.

Older Australians who live in residential aged care can sometimes be more vulnerable than others, making any breach of the trust placed in these facilities even more appalling.

The health, safety and well-being of older people who reside in aged care facilities is of paramount importance to the Government.

The Aged Care Complaints Scheme acted swiftly in response to a complaint brought to its attention about Kepnock Grove, undertaking an unannounced visit to the home on the 22nd of January 2015. Matters relating to this particular complaint are currently under investigation and the provider has been working to resolve the issues.

Given the gravity of the new allegations made in The Australian, today the independent Australian Aged Care Quality Agency will be on site to conduct a comprehensive review of the facility’s operations. As part of its standard case management processes, the Quality Agency will also review the performance history of other facilities operated by the Baptist Union of Queensland.

Assessors from the Quality Agency will interview staff, review residents’ care plans, and observe the staff and management practices of both care managers and front-line staff to ensure that all information is taken into account when deciding whether the home meets all 44 expected outcomes of the Accreditation Standards.

Any resident who wants to meet confidentially with the assessment team will be able to do so, and any relatives or resident’s representative will also be able to meet with the assessment team.

As is standard practice, the full findings of the Quality Agency will be published on its website once the review is completed.

There are a number of robust regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure that Approved providers of Aged Care comply with Government standards and regulations to provide high quality care for older people.

Any instances of abuse, assault or mistreatment of residents in an aged care facility must be reported to the police.

If concerns for the future health and wellbeing of care recipients are identified the Department of Social Services has a range of compliance action that may be taken. This can include the imposition of sanctions, including in the most serious cases, loss of accreditation and funding.

The Department of Social Services plays a key role in ensuring that care recipients and their loved ones are heard and concerns about their care are promptly investigated.

Families, residents and staff are able to bring any concerns to the attention of the Aged Care Complaints Scheme, anonymously if they wish, by calling 1800 550 552.

All complaints received by my Department through the Aged Care Complaints Scheme are treated seriously.

In addition to the work of my Department through the Aged Care Complaints Scheme, the Quality Agency monitors and continually assesses the care and standards that are being delivered in aged care homes across the nation.

They make at least one unannounced visit each year to every residential aged care facility throughout Australia.

The Aged Care Commissioner and the Commonwealth Ombudsman provide an additional avenue for complaints about residential aged care facilities.