|Tuesday, 26 June 2012 20:27 | Print page:|
Five years after the event, Victorian State Coroner, Judge Helen Coate, has released the findings of the inquest into the deaths of four residents of the aged-care home, Broughton Hall.
Most of us can remember very well the Broughton Hall gastro outbreak. Not only did four residents die but many other residents became very ill. The outbreak occurred on the weekend. The written guidelines for managing infections were locked in a cupboard and no-one notified health authorities for several days.
When investigators from the Department of Health and Ageing conducted their investigation of the outbreak, they relied on paperwork for their information. The investigation largely took place in the office. Family members and residents claimed that they were not interviewed.
The Coroner has found that there was a lack of 'readiness and procedure' at Broughton Hall. She has recommended that the Department of Health should order aged-care homes to report an infectious disease outbreak within 72 hours - if there is unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea in two or more residents or members of staff.
A further recommendation is that every facility should have a designated infection-control manager. These are hardly world-shattering proposals and are ones that you might expect every aged-care home to do anyway.
But, then again, given the dire staffing situation in many of our homes, it might actually be quite hard to find a designated infection-control manager. After all, these days there doesn't even have to be a registered nurse on site at high care homes – only one on call. Often residents are transferred to hospital for relatively minor illnesses as many staff do not have the skills to care for them.
Most of the problems in our aged-care homes get back to staffing issues. Yet the 2011 Productivity Commission Report, 'Caring for Older Australians' focussed far more on structural issues than on the critical matter of how to staff homes with adequate, skilled health professionals. However, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, recently announced the appointment of Fair Work Australia Commissioner, Anne Gooley, as the Chair of the Aged Care Strategic Workforce Advisory Group. She is to lead the development of an Aged Care Workforce Compact.
Mr Butler, stated that "The Compact will help the aged care sector attract and retain staff through higher wages, improved career structures, and enhanced training and education opportunities.'
We can but hope!
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