Health Department lowers boom on Bupa

By Charmayne Allison

LOCAL families are concerned about the care of some of our most vulnerable residents after the Department of Health imposed sanctions on Bupa Echuca for failing to provide ‘‘care consistent with the Accreditation Standards’’.

A letter was sent to stakeholders on April 3 informing them of the sanctions, which were imposed after the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission visited the site between March 15 and 16 this year.

The sanctions mean Bupa Echuca will not receive payment from the Australian Government for new residents until September 26, 2019.

‘‘Limiting the number of residents who can be accepted into the home helps the home to focus on fixing the problems for current residents,’’ the letter read.

Bupa Echuca was also ordered to appoint an adviser by April 2 to assist in meeting ‘‘their clinical responsibilities’’ — these can relate to personal care, skin care or pain management.

An administrator was also to be appointed by the same date to assist Bupa Echuca to meet their responsibilities relating to governance and business operations.

Finally, Bupa Echuca must provide training to educate all staff and address the gaps identified by the Commission.

For the relative of a Bupa Echuca resident (who has asked to remain anonymous), these sanctions come as no surprise.

‘‘I have seen examples of poor care. Generally, I feel the care has slipped overall,’’ the relative said.

‘‘There was a scabies outbreak last year at Bupa Echuca and it should have been public knowledge but it wasn’t reported on.

‘‘These are our most vulnerable people and they deserve the utmost care. They often can’t speak up for themselves or don’t realise what’s going on, but it’s us relatives who see the level of care and get concerned.

‘‘Bupa is a big company, they should be more accountable.’’

However, Bupa insisted Department of Health protocols were followed closely after they were alerted to an active scabies infection in four residents on August 13 last year.

A spokesperson said all residents received medical treatment, with a repeat given seven days later.

All staff, residents and their families were contacted accordingly to explain the situation and treatment plan and furniture, carpets and common areas were fumigated.

Bupa Aged Care Australia has arranged a meeting tomorrow at Bupa Echuca at 2pm to provide information to all residents, relatives and representatives about the sanctions and answer any questions.

‘‘I already plan on asking several questions,’’ the relative said.

‘‘When the scabies outbreak happened, all the residents had to pay for their own medication. I think that should have been Bupa.

‘‘And if the care has slipped overall, I think residents should have a refund.’’

While the relative said staff they had dealt with were excellent, they added the staff turnover at the facility was ‘‘huge’’.

‘‘The staff are mortified (about the sanctions), they’re doing their best, but accreditation is accreditation.’’

Bupa Aged Care chief operating officer Carolyn Cooper said Bupa took the Department of Health’s sanction notice extremely seriously and was ‘‘taking urgent action to address the issues identified’’.

‘‘We are reviewing all resident care plans, recruiting additional staff and undertaking a thorough training and education program, which will be reviewed by the Department of Health,’’ she said.

‘‘Providing quality care and support to our residents is our absolute priority and we are committed to making things right.”

The Department of Health said it would publish information on the compliance action following tomorrow’s meeting.

‘‘It is the responsibility of all providers to meet the required standards and where they fail to do this, there is a regulatory framework in place to bring them back into compliance as quickly as possible,’’ a spokesperson said.

‘‘As part of the sanction process the provider must inform the residents and relatives, through a meeting, of the non-compliance, and the actions the provider must take to remedy the non-compliance.

‘‘It is important that residents and relatives are the first to be informed on any non-compliance at the service.’’