A statement by the aged care Minister Richard Colbeck makes it clear that the aged care regulator, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC), has been unsuccessful to put things right at the Newmarch House residential aged care facility.
In a third attempt, the ACQSC has forced Newmarch to appoint an Independent Adviser picked by the ACQSC.
Before the coronavirus got in and got away, Newmarch House had a good reputation where it matters: locally. It does not seem that Newmarch House was managed incompetently or neglectfully.
Minister Colbeck’s statement makes it clear that the main regulator, ACQSC, intervened in the current and ongoing crisis with two measures, which proved to be ineffective:
- Through its first regulatory action additional capacity was provided in the form of a team experienced in managing COVID-19 in an Age Care setting. Unfortunately but for their own wellbeing, key members of that team – who assisted with the response at Dorothy Henderson lodge – will leave this week.
- At the second regulatory intervention, additional assistance and resource support for the development of a framework to ensure quality of communication of resident’s circumstances to families was completed. It was then resourced and delivered with a team of registered nurses.
The third regulatory action, threatening Newmarch House with loss of accreditation, appears to be a tactic by the ACQSC to divert attention from its own failings.
The ACQSC must answer the following questions:
- Why will an Independent Adviser going into Newmarch House be successful where “a team experienced in managing COVID-19 in an Age (sic) Care setting” was unsuccessful. Note that, as part of “its first regulatory action” this “team” was sent in by the ACQSC.
- Why was “its first regulatory action” unsuccessful?
- Why are “key members” of the experienced team “leaving”? Are they infected? Are they being obstructed in their work? Are they frustrated? Are they exhausted?
- If the Independent Adviser hand-picked by the ACQSC is unsuccessful in getting the Newmarch crisis under control, will the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner take personal responsibility?
- Finally, the most important question of all: Would it be beneficial to residents, both COVID-19 negative and COVID-19 positive, if those residents who are COVID-19 positive were transferred to hospital and COVID-19 negative residents stayed in Newmarch House? It seems this would be a highly effective way from the residents’ point of view of dealing with the Newmarch House crisis.