Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson has released a statement in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak at Sydney’s Newmarch House aged care facility (pictured) in April.
Ms Anderson said the Commission had been actively engaged with Anglican Community Services and Newmarch House management to monitor and support them to meet their obligations under the Aged Care Quality Standards.
She said the engagement involved daily contact with Newmarch House management through a small interagency forum with health authorities.
“As the national regulator of Commonwealth subsidised aged care services, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has been acutely aware of the health risk posed by COVID-19 to older Australians,” Ms Anderson said.
“During the pandemic, we have used our broad range of regulatory functions to help manage risks to consumers and monitor the performance of aged care providers. We have also partnered with public health responders to support the management of suspected and confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19 at aged care services.”
She said the Commission had taken a series of “graduated regulatory actions” with Anglican Community Services in response to escalating concerns about the seriousness of the outbreak, the provider’s response, and complaints from consumers and families about the information available to them and the safety and quality of care at the service.
The Commissioner said regulatory actions taken by the Commission to date comprised:
- 23 April 2020: issuing an administrative direction followed by a Non-compliance Notice on 3 May 2020.
- 6 May 2020: issuing a Notice of Requirement to Agree to Certain Matters and Consideration of Sanctions (under section 63U ACQSC Act).
- The Notice referred to breaches of Aged Care Quality Standards 1, 2, 3 and 8 and a finding of immediate and severe risk as a result of failure to take appropriate action. The Notice required the approved provider to appoint an independent adviser (Mr Andrew Kinkade) to support the effective management of the outbreak with no new care recipients to be appointed to the service for the period of the requirement.
- The approved provider agreed to the requirements on 7 May 2020.
Ms Anderson said independent adviser, Mr Kinkade commenced his appointment on Friday 8 May and had played an instrumental role in strengthening Newmarch House’s response to the outbreak.
“His knowledge, expertise and experience have been pivotal in driving improvements in the operation of the service,” Ms Anderson said.
“I wrote to the families of Newmarch House residents on 7 May 2020, 22 May 2020 and 19 June 2020 to keep them informed about the regulatory actions and what they mean,” she said.
“I also met with families of Newmarch House via a webinar hosted by OPAN on 12 May 2020 to explain the Commission’s regulatory actions and to hear directly from families about their concerns.”
She said representatives from the Commission and Commonwealth Department of Health undertook a site visit to Newmarch House on 15 May.
“On 2 June 2020 I met with the Board of Anglican Community Services to discuss the approved provider’s management of the Newmarch outbreak and the Commission’s regulatory actions.”
Following the official declaration on 15 June by NSW Health that the outbreak at Newmarch House was over, the Commission determined that Mr Kinkade would finalise his work as independent adviser in the week commencing 29 June.
“This information was communicated to Anglican Community Services and to Newmarch residents and families on 19 and 20 June.”
She said the Commission continues to closely monitor the care and well-being of residents at Newmarch House and receives daily reports from Anglican Community Services in response to the Commission’s most recent regulatory action.
If anyone has a concern about the care of people at an aged care service, complaints can be made via the Commission’s website www.agedcarequality.gov.au or by calling 1800 951 822.