Nursing home in Hobart too understaffed to feed its residents, audit finds

Nursing home in Hobart too understaffed to feed its residents, audit finds


October 19, 2018 06:33:40

An audit has found one of Hobart’s nursing homes had so few staff earlier this year that it was unable to feed all of its residents.

That was just one of several damning findings in an audit of the Queen Victoria Home at Lindisfarne, putting the home’s future in jeopardy.

Queen Victoria Care (QVC), which manages the home, said the findings “were disappointing”, and management would act quickly to address shortfalls in care at the centre.

ABC News obtained a copy of last month’s report which found that “one care recipient did not have breakfast due to lack of staff”, one was seen “eating dessert with her fingers” and another was found “rummaging through a bin containing used incontinence aids”.

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Residents complained about being left on the toilet for up to an hour at a time and having their morning tea delivered to them while they were on the toilet.

Concerned relatives of residents in the home said earlier this year, carer-to-resident ratios in Queen Victoria Home changed from 1-6 to 1-10 and the standard of care then plummeted.

Residents told auditors that “staff look exhausted” and “no-one was around in the afternoons”.

During the audit, 108 of the 132 residents in the home were receiving high care. Employees of the nursing home told auditors there were insufficient nursing staff and most days the home could not cover when someone was off sick.

“Very hard to fill shifts when staff are sick — seven out of 10 times they cannot cover shifts,” one staff member said.

“Even if we are fully staffed carers still struggle to manage the basics.

“I love my job but the way things are here now have a negative impact on residents with and without dementia.”

Queen Victoria Home failed seven key performance standards in the audit:

  • Human resource management or staffing
  • Behavioural management
  • Emotional support
  • Continuous improvement
  • Living environment
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Catering, cleaning and laundry services

QVC chairman Nicolas Turner said they were “very disappointed about the results and want to pass on our apologies to residents and their families if this has caused any concern or discomfort”.

He said the nursing home had until December 20 to meet the required standards to ensure it retains its accreditation to deliver aged care.

“It is our aim to ensure the improvements are in place and maintained as soon as possible and before that date,” Mr Turner said.

“QVC is working closely with the Agency and the Department of Health, and are already well advanced in implementing a number of actions to address the issues identified.”

Problem in understaffing rife in aged-care industry

Health and Community Services Union spokesman Tim Jacobson said the problem of staff shortages was rife across Tasmania.

“Of every survey we’ve run of our aged care members over the last 10 years, the issue that comes out at the top of the list is always staffing,” he said.

“What staff say is they haven’t got enough time to provide even basic care let alone that emotional care that people need.”

The recently announced Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is expected to deliver interim recommendations to the Federal Government by the end of next year.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) does not want to wait for the commission and is calling on the Federal Government to urgently mandate carer to resident ratios.

Emily Shepherd, the Tasmanian Secretary of the ANMF, said: “They have the power to act now and legislate ratios to ensure that residents in residential aged care are kept safe and they are receiving the quality care they deserve”.

“Our residents in residential aged care can’t afford to wait for the conclusion of the royal commission to have those staffing levels addressed,” she added.





First posted

October 19, 2018 05:27:33

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Australians ‘should be given another year’ to opt out of My Health Record

Australians ‘should be given another year’ to opt out of My Health Record


October 19, 2018 06:26:23

Australians should be given another year to opt out of the My Health Record system before a digital medical file is automatically created for them, a Senate committee has recommended.

Key points:

  • Greens senator Rachel Siewart says people must be in a position to make a fully informed decision around My Health Record
  • Health Minister Greg Hunt rejects the call for an extension so as not to “delay the benefits to patients”
  • Nearly 1 million Australians have already opted out

Every Australian with a Medicare card will automatically be given a record containing their medical history unless they opt out by mid-November.

But the committee has demanded that time frame be extended to boost awareness of the scheme, particularly among vulnerable groups.

“[We are] making sure that people are fully aware of their options and of what the My Health Record means,” Greens senator Rachel Siewert said.

“That will enable people to make fully informed decisions, but also making sure it gives the Government time to take up some of the recommendations,” Senator Siewert said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has rejected the call for a 12-month extension so as to not “delay the benefits to patients”.

“The opt-out date has already been extended and the opt outs are travelling at a significantly lower rate than expected,” a spokeswoman said.

The committee also proposed changes to ensure teenagers’ medical details would not be automatically visible to their parents.

When a teenager turns 14 they must typically give consent for parents to access their Medicare information, but now parents can register their child for a My Health Record and potentially administer it until age 18.

While Medicare data stops flowing into records at age 14 if a parent still controls the record, critics fear other information such as medication lists uploaded by doctors could remain visible to carers.

Shadow Health Minister Catherine King said Labor supported tightening access to teenagers’ records.

“Particularly as they go from their young ages, into their adolescence, and into adulthood, they start to have their own privacy around some [medical] issues,” Ms King said.

“I think the Government really does need to heed the report that has come out.

“The utility of this system will be useless if the Australian public has no faith in it.”

Last month it was revealed nearly a million Australians had decided against getting a My Health Record.

The two-month inquiry heard from nearly 120 individuals and groups, amid concerns from health and privacy groups.

The committee was dominated by non-Government senators and made recommendations including:

  • Strengthening the rules to prevent data being used for commercial purposes.
  • Limiting the information available to government departments for data-matching purposes.
  • Better informing the public about the benefits and risks, along with the steps people can take to improve their privacy within the system.

Government senators also dismissed calls to tighten access to records by applying pin codes to My Health Record accounts by default.

With a so-called “record access code”, patients can restrict the number of health professionals who can view their record.

For example, without such a code in place, a person’s podiatrist could view somebody’s sexual or mental health history.

But in a dissenting report, Government senators said: “To realise the full benefits of the My Health Record system, an individual’s multiple healthcare providers need to have timely and comprehensive access to their patients’ medical history.”








First posted

October 19, 2018 06:07:41

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games venues caught up in faked earthquake damper scandal

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games venues caught up in faked earthquake damper scandal


October 19, 2018 06:17:44

Some of Japan’s most famous buildings and 2020 Olympic Games venues have been caught up in a scandal over faked earthquake resistance data.

Key points:

  • More than 1,000 buildings across Japan use seismic dampers made by KYB
  • KYB has been found to have altered data on the effectiveness of its products
  • Well-known buildings such as the Skytree and 2020 Olympics venues have the dampers installed

A Japanese maker of seismic dampeners — used to reduce the impacts of earthquakes — has been found to have falsified inspection data for more than a decade.

Its products are in more than 1,000 buildings across Japan, including high-rise buildings and hospitals.

The Japanese Government says buildings using the defective products are not at risk of collapsing in strong earthquakes — just that they could sway more than expected.

Professor Hiroshi Kawase from the University of Kyoto’s Disaster Prevention Research Institute told the ABC that the dampers only activated after a building had absorbed the peak impact of a quake.

He said they were a secondary countermeasure to reduce the sway after a quake hit buildings.

“A damper cannot reduce the peak amount of the building vibration — but it reduces the duration of shaking,” he said.

“Without a damper, the building shakes for a long time — especially for high-rise building, it can last minutes. But if we have a damper then the shaking will reduce to maybe a third of the duration.”

Tokyo-based KYB and its subsidiary, Kayaba System Machinery, manufactured and sold the defective dampers from March of 2000 through to September of this year.

The products did not meet the standards set by the government.

The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said the company falsified the pre-sale test results of their dampers and ordered them to be replaced immediately.

KYB’s President Yasusuke Nakajima said he was “very sorry” for the scandal.

“We deeply apologise from our hearts for causing enormous concern and trouble to the related people such as the owners, residents, construction companies and design offices,” he said.

“Our company’s basic policy is to immediately replace the nonconforming products and continue the investigation into products where it is unclear if they have been altered or not.”

It’s understood at least eight inspectors were found to have been involved in altering the data.

KYB has been informing affected building owners over the last few days, and subject to their approval, will name them today.

The operator of Tokyo’s famous Skytree said it uses a KYB system for absorption and control and is investigating whether more devices made by the company are used at the tower.

A hospital in Miyagi Prefecture was found to contain the faulty dampers — visitors said they were concerned.

KYB products are also in the Olympic Aquatics Centre and other Tokyo 2020 venues.

A spokesperson for the Tokyo 2020 Games told the ABC it was aware of the issue and that it was awaiting the results of an investigation.

Professor Kawase said people living in buildings with the defective products should not be overly concerned, as the difference between a product that performed to 80 per cent of the required standard and one that passed would be unlikely to be felt by residents.

In 2015, a similar data fabrication scandal involving Toyo Tire & Rubber Co affected 154 buildings that had installed the company’s earthquake shock absorbers.







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Sanctions loom for Saudi Arabia as evidence mounts it may be behind Khashoggi murder

Sanctions loom for Saudi Arabia as evidence mounts it may be behind Khashoggi murder


October 19, 2018 06:14:08

As evidence mounts that Saudi Arabia is responsible for the murder and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the potential for sanctions against the middle-eastern kingdom mounts.

Key points:

  • Saudi Arabia recently shut down new trade and investment with Canada over a diplomatic spat
  • Investors are said to be worried any cutback on oil production by the kingdom could cause a global energy crisis
  • A 1973 Saudi oil embargo against countries who backed Israel in the Yom Kippur war caused a US stock market crash

But if it’s hit with sanctions, Saudi Arabia says it will hit back.

Director at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University, Amin Saikal, says there are two major cards Saudi Arabia can play.

“The instruments that Saudi Arabia has on its hand is of course oil and the sovereign funds.”

Saudi Arabia recently flexed the muscle of its sovereign funds, shutting down new trade and investment with Canada over a diplomatic spat.

But investors are more concerned about what happens it if pulls the oil trigger.

“Saudi Arabia currently produces something like 10 million barrels of oil a day and if it really cuts back that production by, let’s say, 10 per cent or 20 per cent, then that could cause an energy crisis,” said Dr Saikal.

Oil price shock in 1973-74 ravaged US economy

The Middle East has form in using oil to make a political point.

In 1973, Saudi Arabia was party to the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries which proclaimed an oil embargo on those countries (including the United States) which had supported Israel in the Yom Kippur war.

The oil price shock and the accompanying stock market crash in 1973-74 ravaged the US economy. The embargo drove global prices up fourfold before it was lifted in March 1974.

Long queues formed at gas stations in the US. Rationing was implemented, whereby some vehicles were restricted as to when they could purchase fuel based on their number plates (ending in odd numbers meant you could purchase on odd days and vice versa).

US President Donald Trump would be sensitive to the risks, especially considering the crucial mid-term elections are just weeks away.

“The fact [is] that it could create a panic of energy crisis that could also affect the American consumers and could possibly really hurt the Trump administration,” Dr Saikal said.

“That’s why I think Donald Trump has been very careful to not jump on the bandwagon and declare that he is going to put sanctions on Saudi Arabia.”

Although Mr Trump initially promised “severe punishment” for Saudi Arabia if it was proven they were responsible for the death, he has since backtracked and said “rogue killers” might be to blame.

Former CIA agent and now analyst at RBC Capital Markets, Hilma Croft, says the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi is “the most serious rupture in US-Saudi relations since 9/11” and that she “cannot entirely rule out that the leadership would dust off the 1973 playbook if the bilateral relationship with Washington deteriorates sharply from here”.

Even before Khashoggi’s disappearance, the world has seen a substantial oil price rise over the last two years.

Brent Crude doubled from around US$40 to over US$80 today, as political instability in Venezuela, in particular, has caused production to shrink.

Global Head of Credit Products Strategy at CitiGroup, Matt King, said an oil shock could roil global markets which have demonstrated their collective jitteriness of late.

“It does feel as though markets are sensitive to any and every shock this year, in a way they weren’t previously,” he said.

“So if this becomes just that catalyst which causes investors to want to pull back, or forces central banks to hike interests that little bit faster, then it could have a considerable impact.”

Will Saudi Arabia pull the trigger?

Markets seem to be downplaying the prospect of a sanction war erupting and forcing oil prices higher, and also to have mostly shrugged off the potential for Saudi Arabia to drastically curtail its production and put a rocket under prices.

Dr Saikal thinks that’s largely because it wouldn’t be in Saudi Arabia’s best interests to do so.

“If Saudi Arabia reduces its oil production, then that would mean a drop in its oil revenue and that will harm Saudi Arabia itself,” he said.

But perhaps the greatest consideration for Saudi Arabia is regional competition, Dr Saikal said.

“Saudi Arabia would not like to see its rival Iran gaining too much revenue from its oil resources because the more revenue Iran has, the more it can expand its regional influence.”

Mr Trump’s administration has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal and is continuing to ratchet up the pressure on the country.

But he was relying on Saudi Arabia to increase its production in oil to offset the expected loss from Iran as sanctions started to bite.

“If there is an energy crisis, then most of the countries that the United States has requested to not buy Iranian oil may well overlook the American threats and buy oil from Iran,” said Dr Saikal.

“Iran has the capacity to increase its production by 2 to 3 million barrels a day.”

Mr King believes the big difference between today and the 1970s is that the US now has plentiful supplies of shale oil which can be quickly turned on if the price rises.

He said he doesn’t think Saudi Arabia has the same ability to derail the global economy, “both because of the ability of shale to act as an offset and because of the reduced influence of OPEC”.

“It just feels like OPEC doesn’t have the same stranglehold over global oil prices that it had back then,” he said.






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This flesh-eating fish was caught in a 150-million-year-old crime scene

This flesh-eating fish was caught in a 150-million-year-old crime scene

The exquisitely preserved fossil of a strange flesh-eating bony reef fish that lived during the time of the dinosaurs has been discovered — along with some of its potential victims.

Key points flesh eating fish

Key points

  • Fossil fish is the oldest-known flesh-eating fish with bony webbed fins
  • It mimicked the shape of other fish so it could sneak up on them and rip bits out of their fins
  • Even though its teeth are similar to a modern piranha, the two fish species are not related

The 150-million-year-old fish, dubbed Piranhamesodon pinnatomus, was a master of disguise.

While it looked just like other bony fish swimming in the warm, tropical seas, it had razor-sharp teeth like a piranha — perfect for ripping chunks out of its victims’ fins.

It’s a tactic that caught its ancient prey — and today’s scientists — by surprise.

The ancient crime scene was unearthed in a quarry in southern Germany famous for its beautiful fossils of the iconic bird-like dinosaur Archaeopteryx.

The fossils of the new fish and its victims, reported today in the journal Current Biology, were found in 2016 by a team of scientists from the Jura Museum in Eichstätt.

The museum’s director Martina Kölbl-Ebert said the flesh-eater, which was spotted by her co-author and husband Martin, was like nothing she had ever seen before.

“He called me and said ‘look at these teeth, this is quite unusual’.

“That can’t happen, it’s like you have a chimera.

“It doesn’t look like anything else I’ve ever seen in [this kind of fish].”

A wolf in sheep’s clothing

The fish wouldn’t have been the only flesh-eater swimming in the world’s oceans at the time.

There were sharks that could rip pieces off their prey, and there were other fish that swallowed their prey whole.

But this is the oldest-known flesh-eating fish with bony webbed fins.

The fish, which was about 9 centimetres from tip to tail, belonged to an extinct group of bony reef fish known as pycnodontiform.

These round-shaped fish were equipped with scissor-like teeth at the front of their mouth to pick things up, and flat, pavement-like teeth in the back of their mouth designed to crunch and crush up their meal.

The newly discovered fish had much sharper, pointier teeth at the front and upper jaw, and triangular teeth in the lower jaw, which would have worked together like scissors.

And it used its body shape to fool its prey.

“If you look at its fins, you get the idea it was very manoeuvrable, but very slow, so it’s not a hunter,” Dr Kölbl-Ebert said.

“The other fish wouldn’t notice it as being dangerous, because these fish with these shapes usually go for snails and sea urchins.

“So, it would be possible to slowly approach other unwary fish, and then suddenly attack when it’s already very close.”

Meet its victims

The fossils of seven fish with chunks ripped out of their fins, which were excavated from the same sediment, were potentially some of its victims.

“You really see that these fish have been attacked,” Dr Kölbl-Ebert said.

We’ll never know for sure who the culprit was, but Dr Kölbl-Ebert said it was unlikely the rips came from the two other meat cutters at the time: sharks and turtles.

“So far there is no evidence for sharks in the locality of Ettling, not even isolated teeth,” she said.

“Turtles were present, however. But both, sharks and turtles, would be bigger … and it becomes more likely that any attack by them would target not just the fins, but the whole fish.”

Nipping a bit out of the fins, which can regrow and regenerate, meant the fish potentially had a renewable food source.

“There’s quite a lot of organic matter on those fins in the skin and muscles,” Dr Kölbl-Ebert said.

Cunning predator-prey strategy

The fish had a pretty cunning predator-prey strategy, said palaeontologist John Long from Flinders University, who was not involved in the discovery.

“I love the way this thing is not built for speed — it’s just a big flat round fish,” Professor Long said.

“With that kind of body, you’ve got to be cunning to get your prey. You have to use your brain.”

The strategy is similar to that used by today’s piranhas, which live in freshwater rivers in South America.

But the two fish are not related.

“It’s a completely different lineage — think Tassie tigers and wolves — they’re not related at all, but they have a similar body shape and do a similar job as a predator,” Professor Long explained.

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