A woman thinking deeply whilst looking out of a window
A woman thinking deeply whilst looking out of a window

Watchdog responds to Western Downs aged care safety issues

Dozens of Western Downs families who entrusted the care of their most vulnerable family members to council-run aged care facilities wait with bated breath to hear whether the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will cary out an audit.

The ACQSC, the national regulator of government-funded aged care homes, confirmed it has received a request from Western Downs Regional Council to conduct an audit on two of their facilities in Miles and Tara after finding numerous “systemic safety and quality issues… that are of significant concern to council”.

AUDIT: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson (right). Pic: AAP Image/Kelly Barnes
AUDIT: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson (right). Pic: AAP Image/Kelly Barnes

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Ms Janet Anderson PSM said despite receiving the request from Western Downs council, the Commission doesn’t automatically carryout audits when contacted by independent providers.

“WDRC recently contacted the Commission to request its two residential services, Tarcoola Hostel in Tara and Carinya Aged Persons Hostel in Miles be audited,” she said.

“The Commission is seeking additional information from WDRC about this request.”

There are 33 residents currently at the Tarcoola nursing home, and 17 at Carinya where residents pay between $43.96 and $55.23 a day for a 13.12 to 15.58 square metre room.

The council issued a letter to residents’ families on Friday, February 26 detailing failings at their Tarcoola and Carinya nursing homes.

“Council has recently identified systemic safety and quality issues at our Tarcoola Residential Aged Care that are of significant concern to council,” the letter read.

“Both age care facilities have long faced significant challenges in retaining quality and accredited staff.

“The ongoing problem is the product of several contributing factors and issues faced by the aged care and health industry broadly.”

SAFETY ISSUES: Tarcoola Aged Care facility, Tara. Pic: Supplied
SAFETY ISSUES: Tarcoola Aged Care facility, Tara. Pic: Supplied

The council said because of these failings the ACQSC would be conducting audits at both facilities.

Commissioner Anderson said generally the department conducts a range of assessment and monitoring activities, including reaccreditation site audits, review audits and assessment contacts with aged care services to ensure the quality of care and services provided in accordance with the Aged Care Quality Standards.

“The Commission has the power to independently assess and hold providers to account when they fail to meet their obligations under the Aged Care Act 1997,” she said.

“Where an approved aged care provider is found to be non-compliant with the Aged Care Quality Standards, the Commission decides on a regulatory response that is proportionate to the level of assessed risk.”

The Chinchilla News asked the council which issues were flagged as needing auditing, and how long they had been aware of the “significant” safety issues, however council did not respond to the question.

The council also declined to give assurances to the families who have entrusted loved ones to Tarcoola and Carinya that their elderly family members are in safe hands.

Any family members who are concerned about the care, or lack thereof, of their loved ones, Commissioner Anderson said they should contact the Commission here, or by calling 1800 951 822.