End of the line for Lithgow Aged Care Ltd

Article published 24 February 2021

End of the line for Lithgow Aged Care Ltd

LITHGOW Aged Care Ltd is a community-based organisation which runs a regional nursing home offering 95 places.

The ABC reports that the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner has written to the home to let it know it will lose its accreditation on 16 April this year.

Lithgow Aged Care Ltd’s had been given a clean bill of health in September 2017 under the old compliance system, when compliance rates for the industry were pure fantasy and ran in the high nineties.

But it seems the new compliance regime isn’t without its peculiarities either.

Two years after meeting every compliance requirement under the Aussie sun, in August 2019, Lithgow Aged Care Ltd failed 40 out of 42 outcomes.

In July 2020, just eleven months later, an audit found it met all of the limited number of outcomes the audit had looked at, 21 to be precise.

In October 2020, an audit involving all 42 outcomes found, Lithgow Aged Care Ltd met 23 outcomes. Based on this result, the Commissioner decided not to re-accredit the home. She then changed her mind and re-accredited to 16 April 2021.

In January this year, an audit found that Lithgow Aged Care Ltd had failed 38 of 42 outcomes.

Reportedly, the Commissioner’s has now decided not to re-accredit based on her belief the home “could not demonstrate the capacity to rectify the non-compliances”.

In summary, Lithgow Aged Care Ltd went from meeting just two outcomes to 23 outcomes over a period of fourteen months. Then its performance plummeted from 23 outcomes-met to four outcomes-met in a period of three months.

This seems a scarcely credible see-saw. It calls into question how the new aged care standards are applied. It seems they can mean one thing one day and another the next.

But there is something else.

THE VOICE wrote about the travails of the Bupa Eden nursing home back in 2019.

In a February 2019 audit, Bupa Eden failed to meet 22 out of 42 outcomes, with a finding of serious risk.

In a March 2019 audit, Bupa Eden failed 30 out of 42 expected outcomes. Serious risk finding.

In April 2019 a decision was made to revoke accreditation of Bupa Eden in August 2019.

In August 2019, Bupa Eden made a literally last-minute, successful application for reaccreditation.

In November 2019, Bupa Eden was again audited and found to meet all 42 outcomes and accredited for the full three years!

Stand-alone Lithgow Aged Care Ltd was showing improvement when it was hit with a first decision not to re-accredit. It was 55 per cent compliant. Then, incredibly, its compliance dropped to 10 per cent. Lithgow Aged Care Ltd is to go down the gurgler.

The performance of Bupa Eden, part of a big multinational healthcare company, had been seriously deteriorating for more than a year when it was hit with a decision not to re-accredit. It was 29 per cent compliant. Then, miraculously, its compliance rose to 100 per cent. Bupa Eden is doing business as usual.

One last thing.

The Aged Care Act 1997 does not make provision for what happens to nursing home residents displaced by the closure of their nursing home. So, what happens to the 73 current residents of Lithgow Aged Care Ltd in April when the home closes?

Lithgow has only one other nursing home, which has 65 places.

The Commissioner’s decision said that as a result of non-compliance at Lithgow Aged Care Ltd, there was “an immediate and severe risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of residents”.

CPSA politely suggests to the Commissioner that losing the roof over their heads without anywhere to go poses an even more immediate and even more severe risk to the safety, health and well-being of residents.

The case of Lithgow Aged Care Ltd again shows how sensible it would be to split a nursing home’s licence between a licence for the building and a separate licence for care-giving. That way non-performing care providers can be sacked and new ones can be brought in to do a better job.

And the residents don’t become homeless.

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