The Guardian November 15, 2000


Nursing home disgrace:
Demand for rules upgrade

The Victorian branch of the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) has 
accused the Federal Minister for Aged Care, Bronwyn Bishop, of failing to 
fulfill her duty, and has called on the Federal Government to amend its 
aged care legislation to ensure residents of homes are protected. The call 
was sparked by disgraceful conditions at the Kenilworth Nursing Home in 
Melbourne.

The Kenilworth Home is a 30-bed Residential Aged Care Facility for 
residents with high care needs.

The ANF is calling on the Minister to change the legislation so it is able 
to revoke the proprietor's approved provider status immediately and to 
appoint an administrator and a nurse consultant to bring the nursing home 
up to standard.

The Government has applied sanctions on the home and has barred the 
proprietor from filling unoccupied beds with new residents. The ANF says 
this was a necessary first step but that it does nothing to protect the 
residents already in the home.

Poor & dangerous conditions

From 13 to 20 residents are without safe access to their beds which were 
fixed at hip height.

Unsafe bed rails have resulted in dangerous accidents and falls.

The building is in disrepair, with holes in the walls and peeled paint and 
cracked lino.

Heating vents are caked with grime. 

Staff have not attended inservice or training in occupational health and 
safety and infection control.

There has been no occupational health and safety meeting since 1999, nor 
has it been an agenda item at staff meetings in 2000.

The rear fire exit has a barrel lock and a padlock which would impede 
escape in an emergency.

A number of the residents have severe visual impairments and would require 
one-to-one help to evacuate in the vent of a fire.

Due to sanctions now imposed by the Aged Care Act the facility currently 
has 12 or less residents and the employer has reduced night duty staffing 
levels to one employee. This makes a safe emergency evacuation impossible.

On both the days the Commonwealth Aged Care Standards Agency carried out 
its audit at Kenilworth all liquid soap dispensers were empty and two 
infectious waste bins were overflowing.

The cook, who was untrained, was unaware of the status of the Services Food 
Safety Program.

Staff regularly buy day-old donuts from a local bakery for residents' 
morning tea.

There is no supply of fresh fruit and vegetables.

A typical menu for the day is: Breakfast  porridge; Lunch  fish 
fingers/mince with frozen vegetables; Dinner  scrambled eggs.

There is also no Director of Nursing, which is in breach of the Aged Care 
Act.

"It is essential that the legislation be changed", said ANF Assistant 
Branch Secretary, Hannah Sellers, "so that as soon as sanctions are applied 
the Commonwealth has the power to revoke the approved provider status and 
appoint an administrator and nurse consultant with the power and resources 
to bring the facility up to standard."

The ANF says the provider must then be reassessed to determine whether 
there is a proper understanding and commitment to meeting the duty of care 
to residents, relatives and staff, as well as to meet the obligations as an 
approved provider under the Act.

Failure to achieve a satisfactory assessment would result in the former 
provider being unable to return to that role.

"As the situation stands at the moment, the Commonwealth is leaving 
residents at Kenilworth in a substandard facility without any protection, 
or where there is no compulsion on the proprietor to bring it up to 
standard", said Ms Sellers. "This just isn't good enough."

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