Fears Earle Haven crisis not isolated

Closure of a Gold Coast aged-care facility 'indicative of more problems'

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Gold Coast Health executive Karlene Willcocks has described the chaos as an aged care home closed.

Gold Coast Health executive Karlene Willcocks has described the chaos as an aged care home closed.

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COTA Queensland: 'This is not going to be an isolated issue'.

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THE chaotic closure of a Gold Coast aged-care facility could be indicative of more problems for the industry, advocates fear.

Business agreements for aged-care homes similar to the Earle Haven high-care facility, which closed abruptly leaving 70 residents effectively homeless, are widespread.

That's what Council on the Ageing Queensland boss Mark Tucker-Evans has told a Queensland parliamentary inquiry into the abrupt July 11 closure of the facility.

"This is not going to be an isolated issue," Mr Tucker-Evans said on Thursday.

He said his organisation has recommended better oversight and regulation of subcontractors in aged care.

Early warning systems for facilities at risk of sudden closure and better evacuation processes were also floated.

Earle Haven went into administration when a payment dispute came to a head between owner People Care and HelpStreet, which managed the residential care facilities.

Staff at Earle Haven called triple zero for help with the high-care residents who were left stranded.

The state mobilised a hundred medical staff, including paramedics, to help 69 high-care residents.

Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia boss Geoff Rowe told the inquiry he had heard concerning stories from advocates who had visited the facility.

They told him some alert and mobile elderly patients lost the ability to walk and talk, and died within weeks of entering the Earle Haven facility.

Mr Rowe believes this was due to an overuse of psychotropic drugs at the home where he said older people there were "commodified" and "treated like plants in a nursery".

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Earle Haven chemically restrained 71 per cent of patients and physically restrained 50 per cent of them, he said.

Mr Rowe said the overuse of restraints wasn't entirely necessary, and was very concerning.

He said the closure of the home wasn't a shock because it was "always a likely cause of concern".

To describe the way the home operated, Mr Rowe said he heard it would hire good crockery ahead of audits by authorities.

Audits are now unannounced, he said.

The relationship between the home and families of patients had been fraught, and Mr Rowe said he'd heard stories of chairs being thrown at meetings.

Earle Haven boss Arthur Miller will appear in Brisbane on Monday.

Australian Associated Press

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