Thursday, 17 October 2019
Questions without Notice
It is true that not all aged-care facilities have a nurse on site 24 hours a day, but that is actually not required by the quality and safety standards that aged-care facilities operate under. What the quality and safety standards require from aged-care facilities is that they provide the quality of care at the level of safety that's required by those standards and by the acuity of the patients and the residents who are in those facilities. There is no requirement under the Australian quality and safety standards for facilities to have nurses on site 24 hours a day, so the rationale for the question I suppose stands to be questioned in that context. Aged-care providers are required to provide the quality of care at the level of safety that represents the acuity of residents in the facilities. That's what the quality and safety standards say, and that's what the government requires them to do.
There are a number of models of provision of care within the aged-care sector in Australia. There are some providers who provide a property based operation, and then they subcontract their care to another approved provider. One of the poorer examples of what we've seen in this space was the situation at Earle Haven, where, unfortunately, the approved provider was subcontracting to another provider that had no approval or accreditation at all, and we saw the very unfortunate outcome in that circumstance. There are a number of models of provision of care within the aged-care sector, and of course providers are required to meet the standards of care demonstrated and required under the aged-care quality and safety standards.
I'm glad the minister raised Earle Haven. Operation of the Earle Haven nursing home in Queensland was outsourced, and a subsequent dispute between the owner and the operator resulted in a 000 call to evacuate over 70 frail and elderly residents after most staff had fled. How many more senior Australians will suffer the same fate before the government finally acts on aged-care regulations?
The government introduced new quality and safety standards on 1 July this year, so Senator Chisholm's well out of date in respect of the question he asked. What happened at Earle Haven—and I don't disagree with anybody on that side of the chamber—was an absolute disgrace and should not have happened. When we receive the report from Kate Carnell later this month we'll have some opportunity to reflect on what happened at Earle Haven and take some action to deal with any issues that crop up. But in the context of Senator Chisholm's accusation that the staff fled, that is actually not true. One of the things that was good about what happened at Earle Haven was that the staff actually stayed to assist the residents, and I congratulate the staff on that. So, to make that claim against the staff is quite outrageous, because they are very good people. (Time expired)