The federal government has said it will support all 23 of the recommendations made in the report on the inquiry into events at Earle Haven.
The inquiry was established by the federal government to investigate what happened on the night 69 residents, many of whom had dementia, were evacuated without warning and with nowhere to go.
The inquiry was led by Kate Carnell AO, who co-authored the Carnell Paterson review of the aged care sector in 2016-2017.
The Earle Haven inquiry found that the senior management of both the provider, People Care Pty Ltd, and the company sub-contracted to deliver care services, Help Street Villages (Qld) Pty Ltd, allowed “personal animosity” and “financial considerations” to “override their responsibility for the care of the people in their care.”
The inquiry found Help Street lacked aged care experience and did not have controls in place to oversee the care that was outsourced.
They found Help Street also had a history of non-compliance, and the aged care regulators missed a number of warning signs, including an increase in the number of complaints about the quality of the service and the high levels of use of chemical and physical restraints.
“There were also occasions when regulators failed to engage critically with information received or follow through with necessary action,” the report states.
The report said staff acted selflessly during the “terrible” events that unfolded.
“Care staff remained on-site to support the residents amid the chaos despite being told they would not be paid or covered by insurance,” the report states.
“This compassionate act demonstrated their commitment to the wellbeing of the people in their care. This is a trait consistent with most of the dedicated and caring people who work in the aged care industry and is something we should all applaud.”
The report says that People Care did not provide all the financial information that was requested of it, though it did provide a “large amount” of information.
Help Street, on the other hand, only provided “cursory” information and refused access to any financial information. The report states it was “disappointed” by Help Street’s attitude to the inquiry.
“The Inquiry is of the view that this attitude suggests a deplorable lack of accountability by Help Street for the consequences of their actions,” the report states.
The inquiry said there should be mechanisms other than emergency evacuation in the case of failed nursing homes.
“This type of emergency response should only be reserved for life threatening situations such as floods and fires, as the act of sudden relocation is life threatening in itself,” the report states.
The regulator should have greater oversight of financial and commercial arrangements, the inquiry recommended.
A statement from the aged care minister, The Hon Richard Colbeck MP, says the recommendation to give the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission greater oversight powers “will further strengthen the tough new cop on the beat for the aged care sector”.
These powers are set to come in on 1 January 2020.
“I will be pushing for swift passage of the Bill before Parliament to beef up the powers of the independent aged care regulator,” Mr Colbeck said.
“I will work methodically to implement all the recommendations from the report, particularly in the context of the findings of the Royal Commission final report, as well as incorporating the interim report,” he said.
Queensland’s minister for health, The Hon Steven Miles said the federal government must act immediately.
“The report makes clear that there was a complete lack of care from the providers, who clearly weren’t up to the job of looking after elderly and vulnerable Queenslanders,” Mr Miles said.
“The report also makes clear warning signs were missed,” he said.
The state member for Gaven, Meaghan Scanlon, said she witnessed the “devastating” events and the impact they had on residents and families.
“I want to thank all of the emergency services, health staff and those aged-care staff who stayed behind to ensure that everyone had a safe place to stay,” she said.
“In total around 32 paramedics were involved in the mass operation and over 250 health staff from Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service helped coordinate and respond to the incident.”
You can read the ‘Inquiry into events at Earle Haven’ report here.