Nov 17, 2020

Scabies outbreak at “disgraceful” aged care home

Last night, A Current Affair aired its program on the “disgraceful conditions” of a care facility in Adelaide. 

According to the report, residents of the Kindred Living Whyalla facility in Cottage 3 have been living with ongoing infestations of scabies, causing painful rashes, “screaming, yelling, itching” and residents claiming they scratch non-stop. 

“They writhe in their bed. They are yelling, they are moaning”, a whistleblower reported. A leaked medical report quotes one resident saying, “Help me mum, it hurts so much.” 

Kindred Living Whyalla boss, Juanita Walker, said that they were dealing with the infestation internally, and denied the multiple claims that the situation had been ongoing for three years. It was revealed that she had installed a “bug zapper” to attempt to manage the situation, despite medical reports claiming that equipment within the home was not cleaned properly. 

Images of painful rashes, full body scabs caused by constant scratching, and horrific bedsores were passed onto local politician, Frank Pangallo from the South Australian Best Party. A family member of the facility asked Mr Pangallo to attend the facility. 

“Ms Walker said that they’ve been aware of this for some time, and that they’ve tried to clean the cottage up. Initially she denied that there was scabies, and then she confided that there were scabies in there.

“I find it quite heartbreaking,” he said. 

This isn’t the first time that Kindred Living has come under fire for quality issues, with whistleblowers revealing that they have received two sanctions in the past, and a non-compliance just last year. They also claimed that “when they and others complained to the government health department, officials simply rang up the home to see what was going on” says A Current Affair. 

“This is a multibillion dollar industry. This facility in particular had $17.5 million in commonwealth government funding just last year,” said Stewart Johnson, aged care advocate, who has stepped in to help bring light to the disease and poor hygiene conditions of this particular home. 

As the scabies outbreak continued, the whistleblowers revealed that the infection had spread throughout staff and team members. 

“When I was there, there were multiple staff members covered, repeatedly going to the doctor, completely covered,” said one. 

“They’re bringing it home to their children, their partners,” said the other. 

Brady Halls, the A Current Affair reporter behind the report, revealed that since their reporting team attended the home, there had been swift changes to the facilities within Cottage 3. 

“Let me make it clear though, that it is only Cottage 3 that we are talking about,” he said. 

“Now I am told by those in the know that they have been cleaning madly in there all weekend, and buying up big… with new mattresses and furniture arriving at the facility over the last three days. 

“I’m also told by the whistleblowers that management has been at the facility all weekend, when they normally wouldn’t be, in a state of quote ‘panic’. They’ve engaged an independent advisor to guide them through the pending investigation that will no doubt follow as a result of our story tonight.” 

He went on to read a letter written by the minister for aged care, Richard Colbeck, written in response to the story, which had been sent to him earlier that day. 

“Kindred Living Whyalla has been the subject of 11 complaints which have been investigated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. This includes managing a resolution process for two open complaints in relation to scabies. The provider continues to be monitored closely, including unannounced spot checks.” 

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