Kepnock Grove to be investigated as CEO denies cover-up
SENIOR management of Carinity, which operates Bundaberg's Kepnock Grove aged care facility, has responded to serious allegations of abuse of residents but denies a cover-up following an internal investigation.
CEO Jon Campbell confirmed the former manager and the regional manager of Kepnock Grove were no longer employed by Carinity and had been referred to the office of the Queensland Health Ombudsman.
Mr Campbell spoke with the NewsMail yesterday following allegations in The Australian article which alleged the centre tried to cover-up serious failing in the level of care provided at the facility and claimed residents were mistreated and neglected.
Assistant Minister for Social Services Senator Mitch Fifield yesterday confirmed in light of the new allegations the independent Australian Aged Care Quality Agency would be on site to conduct a comprehensive review of the facility's operations.
But Mr Campbell denied there was a cover-up and insisted as soon as complaints against Kepnock Grove were brought to his attention the matter was investigated and appropriate action was taken to address the problems.
"In December we became aware of some serious issues," he said.
"I ordered the commencement of an immediate and comprehensive investigation.
"I sent my four best people up here, senior people within the organisation."
Mr Campbell said that investigation resulted in a number of other complaints coming forward.
"They all centred around the actions of the manager of Kepnock Grove and as a result of that investigation that manager was terminated in December," he said.
"And we've made a range of improvements since then and all of the complainants are very satisfied with the action we've taken.
"All of the issues have been resolved as far as the complainants are concerned."
Mr Campbell said he couldn't go into the details of individual residents or the exact nature of the complaints but said they were all in relation to the former manger.
"They revolved around the actions of the manager and her inter-personal style and her lack of compassion and empathy and ability to communicate with residents, but also with relatives," he said.
Mr Campbell said the Department of Social Services had attended the facility in January.
"The Department of Social Services started an investigation January 22, they arrived with two officers," he said.
"Their intention was to stay for two days but they left after day one.
"They commented on the happy attitude of both staff and residents and how pleased everyone was with the action's we'd taken."
Mr Campbell said there were a lot off errors in the report that appeared in The Australian.
"One of the residents who was suggested as having passed away is actually alive in our facility and we spoke with her yesterday," he said
"We're not denying that some of those issues occurred in the sense that the care wasn't always at the level that we would expect.
"We do accept that the care here was falling short and didn't always reach the hight standard we'd accept from our service.
"But those actions really revolve around the actions of the manager and not the staff themselves.
"We've operated in a very transparent and open way.
"I can assure you there has been no cover-up."
Mr Campbell said he was not aware of any complaints made by staff about the former manager to senior management.
Former Kepnock Grove resident Ernie Giannangelo spent the last three years of his life at the retirement facility and his daughter Franca said the staff and facility operators needed to be held accountable.
She said she suggested her mother bring her father home on countless occasions after suspecting he wasn't being cared for properly but conceded her mother was in no position to look after him.
"My mother is on her own and doesn't drive," she said.
"My dad had vascular dementia and after he fell and broke his hip she couldn't look after him.
"But mum would walk down every day because she couldn't rely on him being in a clean state, he would be unwashed so she would do most of that herself."
Franca said staff turnover at Kepnock Grove was extremely high and she's upset no one spoke up about what was happening.
"There were countless staff that came and went and after they left they didn't report it," she said.
"Dad was assessed as high care, they made a lot of money out of him and he didn't get the care he deserved.
"I'd like to think things will change now but I don't know."
Senator Mitch Fifield has confirmed the independent Australian Aged Care Quality Agency will conduct a comprehensive review of the facility's operations.
"The Aged Care Complaints Scheme acted swiftly in response to a complaint brought to its attention about Kepnock Grove, undertaking an unannounced visit to the home on the 22nd of January 2015," he said.
"Matters relating to this particular complaint are currently under investigation and the provider has been working to resolve the issues."
Senator Fifield said as part of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency's standard case management processes it would also review the performance history of other facilities operated by the Baptist Union of Queensland.
"Assessors from the Quality Agency will interview staff, review residents' care plans, and observe the staff and management practices of both care managers and front-line staff to ensure that all information is taken into account when deciding whether the home meets all 44 expected outcomes of the Accreditation Standards," he said.
"Any resident who wants to meet confidentially with the assessment team will be able to do so, and any relatives or resident's representative will also be able to meet with the assessment team.
"As is standard practice, the full findings of the Quality Agency will be published on its website once the review is completed."
Families, residents and staff are able to bring any concerns to the attention of the Aged Care Complaints Scheme, anonymously if they wish, by calling 1800 550 552.