Federal probe launched into Earle Haven nursing home

Federal inquiry launched 'to get to the bottom' of Earle Haven crisis


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Earle Haven nursing home on the Gold Coast. Photo: AAP

Earle Haven nursing home on the Gold Coast. Photo: AAP

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Gold Coast nursing home inquiry to be headed up by Kate Carnell

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A GOVERNMENT investigation is underway into the abrupt closure of a Gold Coast nursing home that left dementia patients living in temporary homes in a state of high distress.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, has ordered full inquiry - which will be headedby former ACT chief minister Kate Carnell - into the events surrounding the forced relocation last week of residents at the Earle Haven Retirement Village.

Minister Colbeck said he was "angered and appalled by the terrible and unprecedented events" that occurred at the retirement village and vowed to "get to the bottom" of what occurred.

"Residents should not have been put in a situation where they were forced to be relocated because they were left without the care they so rightfully deserved," Minister Colbeck said.

"I am determined to ensure there we understand why the situation occurred, that we do what we can to prevent this type of event in the future and that those responsible are held to account. I look forward to Ms Carnell's report."

News of the investigation broke as Queensland police ruled out laying any criminal charges over the shutdown of the Earle Haven Retirement Village eight days ago.

"There was no evidence of any criminal offences being committed and there are no charges to be preferred against any person or organisation," Queensland police said on Friday.

The announcement also came hours after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk vowed to name and shame private aged-care homes by ordering fixed nurse-to-resident ratios in state-owned aged-care facilities.

About 70 residents who were evacuated from the facility's high-care wing over a week ago still have no idea when they will be able to return to familiar surroundings.

That has left relatives and friends furious, saying many are dementia patients who are struggling after they were moved to temporary beds in other aged care homes.

Barbara Healey is a former director of a nursing home and her sister-in-law lived at Earle Haven until the shutdown.

She says Queensland Health should never have decided to move the residents, and instead should have sent in staff to limit stress for residents.

"They are useless, absolutely and totally useless," she told reporters.

"It's been terrible, absolutely dreadful. She doesn't know where she is or what she's doing ... she is distressed, they all are."

Last Thursday's shutdown was sparked by a financial dispute between the facility's owner, and a sub-contractor trusted to operate the high-care wing.

This was the worst thing that could happen to a person with dementia and most of those people had dementia.

Ms Bell could not say when residents might get to go home.

"The facility is not ready to take residents back," she said.

"If the facility is not able to take them back then it is more dangerous for them to come back than to stay where they are.

The Member for Moncrieff, Angie Bell, welcomed the inquiry announcement.

"I am devastated about what has happened to residents in my local community and fully support Minister Colbeck's commissioning of a full inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Earl Haven.

"One week on and it has been very humbling to meet with residents and see the resilience that they and their families have shown.

"I will make sure that I take their messages with me to Federal Parliament in Canberra.

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