Sexual assault and excessive force claims in state-run nursing homes being checked by police – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Sexual assault and excessive force claims in state-run nursing homes being checked by police

Exclusive by Josh Bavas

Updated August 07, 2019 10:16:44

An elderly resident with a cognitive impairment was treated so poorly in a state-run aged care facility in Queensland that police were called to investigate complaints a staff member used excessive force.

Key points:

  • Police were involved in about half of the 16 serious complaints to Queensland Health in 2018
  • The State Opposition’s Ros Bates says a sexual assault allegation is “frightening and horrendous”
  • The Premier announced last month that state-run aged care centres would have fixed nurse-to-resident ratios

Another resident was allegedly sexually assaulted by an employee at a nursing home and one resident’s fingers were so badly bruised after being handled by another worker that it was reported to police.

These are just a few of the serious complaints from Queensland’s state-run aged care centres in the past year.

The details were obtained by the ABC under Right to Information, showing police were involved in about half of the 16 serious complaints raised with Queensland Health in 2018.

In one instance, an elderly woman was found down the road from her nursing home after “miscommunication between staff” led to her being “lost” after a party in the centre’s function room.

A spokesman for Queensland Health would not confirm which facilities were subject to the complaints or the outcome of the investigations, but said each case was taken seriously.

“We do everything we can to provide the best possible care to our frail and elderly,” the spokesman said.

“Queensland Health takes all allegations or suspicion of assault against people receiving care in our facilities extremely seriously and has taken the necessary action to investigate and resolve these instances.

“If staff members are found to have failed in providing care, disciplinary action is taken by Queensland Health.”

‘Frightening and horrendous’ allegations

Opposition Health spokeswoman Ros Bates said the nature of the complaints was alarming.

“That there is a sexual assault allegation is just frightening and horrendous — that anybody would take advantage of an elderly resident in that manner is just disgusting and appalling, and it needs to be looked at by the police and investigated fully,” she said.

“It’s a pretty damning indictment on state-run facilities and we just need to make sure that our most vulnerable elderly Queenslanders, who’ve worked hard all their lives, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Last month, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced state-run aged care facilities would lead by example by mandating fixed nurse-to-resident ratios to improve the level of care, threatening to name and shame private providers if they failed to publish their ratios.

“I honestly believe this is what families and residents have been crying out for,” she said at the time.

“I think you deserve to know what the care levels are when you sign up.”

But Ms Bates said Queensland Health needed to be more transparent about its own centres.

“The public have a right to know if there have been complaints made about state-run facilities which affect our most vulnerable, elderly residents,” she said.

“Whether or not there has been any disciplinary action, whether staff have been stood down — we have a right to know and more than that, the relatives of residents have a right to know.”

Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU) secretary Beth Mohle said there should be more public reporting around complaints.

“The QNMU has long campaigned for laws around and increased regulation of staff ratios, skill mix and public reporting of adverse incidents and resident outcomes in all Queensland and Australian aged care facilities,” she said.

“The QNMU has long stated a light must be shone on the woefully under-regulated Australian aged care industry.”

Do you know more about this story?

Send reporter Josh Bavas an email if you would like to provide more information on assaults in State-run nursing homes.

Type of incident Complaint Action taken
Reportable assault Staff member reported that at 5:30am, while changing a resident, the nurse grabbed the resident by the wrists using unreasonable force. Police contacted. Resident medically reviewed. Nurse not working the aged care areas until investigation completed.
Reportable assault The residential aged care facility reported to the Commonwealth and the Queensland Department of Health regarding an alleged assault on a resident by a staff member. Police involved. Residential aged care facility has been in contact with family multiple times since alleged assault. Staff member removed from (name redacted) until the investigation has been completed.
Unreasonable use of force The alleged incident involved a care recipient punching at a (redacted) and spitting in their face whilst (redacted). The (redacted) reportedly responded instantaneously and slapped the care recipient on the left side of the face. The incident was witnessed by (redacted). Photo evidence taken of the care recipient’s face and statements requested from all staff involved. Incident reported to police who attended the facility. Ongoing monitoring of the care recipient as per his behavioural management plan. Incident under investigation by Hospital and Health Service.
Reportable assault/excessive use of force Statement from (name redacted) alleging that (redacted) had used excessive force and hit and used knee on a resident. (Name redacted) requested to return to the facility. Requested that (redacted) was not to attend any of the residential aged care units at the facility or have any resident contact. Reported to police.
Reportable assault/excessive use of force Alleged that staff member put hand over resident’s mouth with force and was verbally aggressive towards resident. Facility attempting to contact staff member. Staff member will be stood down while incident is investigated.
Reportable assault/excessive use of force Alleged that staff member interacted with a resident in such a way that resulted in three bruised fingers. GP notified and reviewed injury. Discussion conducted with care recipient. Care recipient has a cognitive impairment and has since denied allegation. QPS notified. Clinical photos of bruising to be taken.
Reportable assault/excessive use of force Staff member alleged to have sexually assaulted a resident. (redacted) who allegation was initially made to was spoken with and confirmed allegation was made by resident. Discussion conducted with care recipient who has some cognitive impairment. Care recipient did not validate allegation. QPS notified.
Reportable assault/excessive use of force Staff member alleged to have hit a resident in the head. QPS notified and visited. GP review conducted.
Reportable assault/excessive use of force Staff member alleged to have used unreasonable force on two residents. Local procedures followed including a full physical assessment by nurse completed. QPS did not progress as a criminal investigation. This allegation was closed as it was unable to be substantiated.
Reportable assault/excessive use of force Staff member alleged to have used unreasonable force on a resident while attending to their personal care. Resident was reviewed immediately by the facility and GP review scheduled. QPS notified and have been on site to review the allegation. Resident’s family has been notified.
Unexplained absence Resident was unable to be found after (redacted) party in function room. QPS notified, staff went out looking and found lady down the road from the nursing home. Resident missing approximately an hour. Resident reported to not be distressed or injured. Incident attributed to miscommunication between staff.
Reportable assault/excessive use of force Family member and enduring power of attorney alleged that a registered nurse verbally threatened and slapped resident in a lounge area. QPS notified, statement taken from staff member. Staff member moved to another unit and to work in partnership with another staff member. Resident assessed by other nursing staff and no injury, redness or swelling evident.

Topics: community-and-society, aged-care, government-and-politics, federal—state-issues, law-crime-and-justice, health, older-people, courts-and-trials, activism-and-lobbying, sexual-offences, crime, public-sector, brisbane-4000, qld, australia

First posted August 07, 2019 05:49:10

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