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”.
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.