Elderly care
Elderly care

Report finds soiled bandages not changed for nine days

A Townsville aged care home has failed to meet key performance metrics in what the Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union fears is a symptom of "chronic understaffing" plaguing the industry.

The beachfront Bolton Clarke Rowes Bay home failed to comply with five standards, after a federal audit found it was not up to scratch in areas including wound care, chemical restraints and complaint management.

Nurses at the home flagged concerns with their union and recently reported chronic understaffing and a lack of registered and experienced staff, leading to a meeting in November between the union and the facility manager.

As a result of the audit last year, the home was hit with a notice of noncompliance in late December and had its public compliance rating downgraded to "significant improvement needed".

A performance report tabled in December noted a number of residents "did not consider that they received personal care and clinical care that was safe and right for them". The report noted that actions to minimise or prevent infection were not adequate at the home and cited one particular issue where a resident was left in soiled and bloody bandages that, according to records, had not been changed for nine days.

While inspecting the facility, the assessment team found that 10 residents who were prescribed chemical restraints had not their restrictive practice assessment and authorisations reviewed for more than four months.

Bolton Clarke Rowes Bay aged care communityPICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Bolton Clarke Rowes Bay aged care communityPICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

Other issues included a lapse in catheter care including changes not occurring when as directed in care plans and such plans not being updated. As well as this, the audit found customer personal information was not securely kept.

The report, which is published through the federal Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, noted that Bolton Clarke advised the auditor the error was "omissions in documentation rather than in care". But in the absence of documentation to support that wound care was provided or that residents required chemical restraint, the report writer concluded they could not establish that consumers were receiving care that optimised their health and wellbeing

The Pallaranda home lost its accreditation in 2019 after a similar audit process found it to be non-compliant on 13 standards. It was re-accredited most recently in December until 2022.

Union secretary Beth Mohle said there was concernat the lack of legislation to ensure "safe" staffing laws in private aged care facilities.

She said issues with medication and pain management, wound treatment, hygiene, nutrition and lack of personal interaction were linked to "chronic understaffing" in the industry.

"At the moment, there is no federal law that requires even one registered nurse (RN) must be on site at a private aged care facility at any time," she said.

"As a result, many facilities run skeletal staff in order to increase profits - and blame staff when elderly residents experience adverse outcomes.

Ms Mohle said at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Queensland private aged care providers including Bolton Clarke cut nurse numbers or reduced hours - despite the Government allocating $250m in emergency cash to facilities.

A Bolton Clarke spokeswoman said "areas for improvement" were identified at its Rowes Bay facility after a visit from the aged care quality agency.

Originally published as Report finds soiled bandages not changed for nine days