A Queensland aged care worker has become the first person in Australia to be banned from working in the aged care industry after she was arrested and charged with 17 offences, having allegedly stolen thousands from elderly residents.
Bobbie Albertella, 51, has been charged with 16 counts of fraud and one count of stealing, and under the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s newly implemented Banning Orders, she is permanently prohibited from being involved in any type of aged care work.
Police allege that Ms Albertella stole cash from multiple residents and used one client’s credit card numerous times – spending thousands of their dollars.
A mother of eight, Ms Albertella worked at The Good Shepherd Home in Annandale, Townsville, where she was fired last December according to the Director of Care, Leonie O’Neill.
“The Good Shepherd Home terminated that person’s employment on December 29, 2022 immediately following notification of her arrest however she had not worked at the facility since December 7, 2022,” said Ms O’Neill to The Courier Mail.
“A formal letter was sent out to all residents and residents representatives on December 30, 2022, advising that the police had arrested and charged a person of interest that had been an employee of the home.”
Ms O’Neill said The Good Shepherd Home continues to work with the police on the investigation and is supporting affected residents who require additional assistance.
The aged care banning order is new reform that has been active since December 1 and is part of the new Code of Conduct for Aged Care.
The banning order was directly handed down by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner (ACWSC), Janet Anderson.
Ms Anderson told The Courier Mail this was the most serious enforcement action the Commission could take to protect aged care residents and consumers.
“On December 31, 2022, the commission made a banning order against Ms Albertella in order to prevent any risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of consumers receiving care from her,” said Ms Anderson.
“The banning order prohibits Ms Albertella from engaging in, providing or being involved in the provision of aged care.
“The behaviour of aged care workers directly impacts people receiving aged care.”
A banning order can be made against current and past aged care workers, governing persons of approved providers, and individuals who have never worked in the industry.
They can be banned temporarily or permanently if the Commissioner believes:
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Craig Gear, said the register will protect older people from a minority of unsuitable aged care workers.
“This is about the rights of older people to live free of abuse and neglect,” said Mr Gear.
“The majority of people that work in aged care have the right attitude and skills. There’s a small cohort that should not work with the elderly.”
Ms Albertella’s name has been published on a public Bannings Order Register and aged care providers have been urged to regularly check the register. She faces the Townsville Magistrates Court on January 31 for the charges laid against her.
A former aged care employee of Australian Unity Home Care Services, Joanne Whyte, has also been in court facing charges for allegedly stealing almost $17,000 from a home care client who was under New South Wales Trustee and Guardian financial management.
It is alleged that Ms Whyte accessed her client’s online bank account 130 times to transfer money to her own account.
The 51-year-old appeared in court on Wednesday, where she plead not quilty to one count of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception. Police have said there are more charges to be laid before Ms Whyte returns to court in February.