'Outrageous': Minister's anger after elderly forced out of their nursing home

Sub contractor removed equipment and services from nursing home without notice, says Minister


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EMERGENCY: Queensland ambulance praised for it's role in relocating 70 elderly people on the Gold Coast after their aged care facility closed down unexpectedly.

EMERGENCY: Queensland ambulance praised for it's role in relocating 70 elderly people on the Gold Coast after their aged care facility closed down unexpectedly.

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Elderly left in limbo as home closes.

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AGED care minister Richard Colbeck has expressed "deep concern and anger" at the situation which saw 70 elderly Queenslanders needing to be relocated from their aged care facility.

Media outlets have reported that beds were urgently sought at facilities across the Gold Coast after staff at Earle Haven Retirement Village walked out over a reported pay dispute.

"It appears that this incident arose from a contractual dispute between the approved aged care provider and a sub-contractor who was providing administrative, nursing, catering and other support services," Mr Colbeck said.

"It appears that the sub-contractor, without notice, withdrew all services and proceeded to remove equipment from site, leaving the facility unsuitable for residents to occupy.

"I also wish to express my appreciation to staff who stayed with residents and alerted emergency services.

Richard Colbeck

Richard Colbeck

Mr Colbeck said the primary concern was for the residents and their families.

"We will be taking all efforts to ensure they continue to be safe and in good care.

"I will be using the full suite of resources available to investigate the circumstances of this matter and I have issued instructions to that effect to my Department last night.

"I will be looking to bring the full force possible of action onto those who put residents of Earle Haven in such a terrible position - it is simply unacceptable. - Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck

"Resources are being immediately mobilised to support residents and their families to ensure their safety and wellbeing."

"I will be looking to bring the full force possible of action onto those who put residents of Earle Haven in such a terrible position - it is simply unacceptable.

"I find it simply outrageous that a contract dispute could escalate to the situation that it did."

Meanwhile Queensland's Health Minister Steven Miles has praised as heroes the Ambulance Service and Gold Coast Health staff for their role in relocating the residents overnight.

"This was effectively an emergency response, the kind you would see in a flood or a cyclone. The paramedics and health staff worked swiftly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of these residents," Mr Miles said.

The private provider closed suddenly yesterday which prompted a staff member to call Triple 0.

"Our health teams have transferred around 70 residents to other accommodation, including three to hospitals who are in a stable condition.

Profits ahead of care is disgusting

"But the fact this happened, over what appears to be a contract dispute, is disgraceful. Families trust these private aged care providers to care for their loved ones and to see them put profits ahead of that care is disgusting."

Mr Miles said the Commonwealth was responsible for regulating the aged care sector.

"The Federal Government must launch a full investigation into how this could have possibly happened and I have written to the Federal Aged Care Minister."

Member for Gaven, Meaghan Scanlon said she spent most of the evening on site helping residents and families and that the paramedics and health care workers did an incredible job.

"Gold Coasters should be proud of how their public health system responded yesterday.

"It's incredible that of all the patients who were rescued, only three required hospitalisation.

"Within a couple of hours, the health teams coordinated alternative emergency aged care accommodation on the Gold Coast for all patients.

"By 10pm, next of kin for all but two patients had been contacted to assure them their loved ones were being well cared for and by the early hours of the morning, all patients had been transported to alternative aged care facilities on the Gold Coast," Ms Scanlon said.

Queensland Ambulance Service allocated 32 paramedics to the operation, while the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service deployed around 12 staff to site.

A spokesperson for the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission said it was working in collaboration with the Department of Health and Queensland Health, to ensure all residents were safe and families are kept informed of the situation.

"An assessment team from the Commission, together with the Department of Health, is at the facility this morning to fully assess the situation. The team is ensuring all residents who have been moved to other residential aged care facilities are safe, have access to their appropriate medication and are given the support they need.

"The Commission is undertaking a welfare check on all residents that have been moved to other services and will be visiting each of these services to ensure they are safe and receiving appropriate care.

"The Commission is also undertaking a review audit of the People Care's regulatory compliance and will notify the Department of Health as soon as possible about the outcome.

"The Commission will continue to closely monitor the situation until it is fully resolved."

If anyone has a concern about the wellbeing or safety of a resident, they can contact the Commission on 1800-951-822.

Leading Aged Services Australia which represents many of Australia's aged care facilities has called for an urgent response to the situation.

"Our first concern is for the welfare of the residents and our thoughts are with them and their loved ones," chief executive Sean Rooney said.

"The whole aged care industry expresses its support for the work of the emergency services and particularly to the other local aged care providers who have swung into action to help accommodate the residents."

Mr Rooney called on the Federal Government and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to move swiftly to uncover the causes of the situation and ensure it can never happen again.

"Media reports suggest that the immediate cause of the Earl Haven situation was a contractual dispute.

"It is unclear whether broader funding pressures were a direct contributor, but there is strong evidence of a steep decline in the viability of many residential care providers.

It is unclear whether broader funding pressures were a direct contributor, but there is strong evidence of a steep decline in the viability of many residential care providers. - Sean Rooney

"Just last week the Government's own official advisor on aged care finances warned that 44 per cent of residential aged care providers were operating at a loss in 2017-18, with conditions likely to worsen in 2018-19, and signs that an increasing number of smaller providers are seeking to leave the industry.

"While the Royal Commission will guide the long-term reform agenda, the Federal Government must take immediate action to mitigate the risk of service failure.

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