Queensland’s Earle Haven Retirement Village, became a scene of distress and confusion for over 70 elderly people yesterday as a convoy of ambulances and authorities were forced to relocate residents due to the sudden and immediate shutdown of their home.
Staff walked out of the Nerang nursing home yesterday after a long and drawn-out pay dispute
That saw the venue stripped of computers, medical equipment, medication, food and cleaning products.
Aged care contractor Help Street, who operates the home, has been locked in a contract dispute with the nursing homes overarching aged-care provider People Care Pty Ltd, for several weeks after staff allegedly went unpaid for their work.
Help Street CEO, Kristofer Bunker, shared his thoughts on why staff were forced to walk away from the nursing home in an interview with Channel 7 last night.
“We have tried desperately over the last two days to confirm from them that we would receive payment,” he said.
“We receive money every month, this month we haven’t received anything and last month it was late and other months throughout this year it was late or had deductions that we couldn’t account for.
“As such, we couldn’t guarantee the staff any wages beyond today and i wasn’t prepared to keep them employed without that knowledge.
“We took the decision to let the staff know and be truthful and honest to them.
“At the same time we were concerned for the residents in the nursing home so we contacted Queensland Health and they sent a team down to make sure the resident’s care is at the forefront.”
While residents and their families were in shock at yesterday’s surprising turn of events, it is understood that all 71 residents of the Earle Haven Retirement Village were successfully relocated to other aged care homes across the coast.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles spoke to a large media contingent at the front of the nursing home earlier today and addressed
“We can’t underestimate how distressing it has been for residents and their families, these are older, frail Queenslanders, many suffering from dementia. If you can imagine being woken in the middle of the night and transported by an ambulance to some other location without all of your personal effects – it has been very distressing and it should never of happened,” said Mr. Miles.
Newly appointed Aged Care Minister, Senator Richard Colbeck, weighed in on the situation and has expressed deep concern regarding the events that unfolded at Earle Haven.
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,” Minister 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 express my sincere appreciation for the assistance of Queensland Health, local emergency services, and other Aged Care providers who made facilities available to accommodate the residents.”
“We are pleased that all residents have been safely relocated.”
“I also wish to express my appreciation to staff who stayed with residents and alerted emergency services.”
“Our primary concern is for the residents and their families – we will be taking all efforts to ensure they continue to be safe and in good care.”
“I find it simply outrageous that a contract dispute could escalate to the situation that it did.”
“I received a comprehensive briefing on the situation as it was understood last night and have received regular updates from my Department as the situation unfolded.”
“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.”
“Resources are being immediately mobilised to support residents and their families to ensure their safety and wellbeing.”
“I have directed my department to work closely with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and Queensland Health to examine the circumstances that led to this terrible situation.”
“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.”
Photo courtesy of ABC news