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."