Did Oakden's aged care facility commit nursing home negligence?

Published 08 May 2018

Elderly people are among the country's most vulnerable groups, particularly when they suffer from neurological disorders such as dementia.

Unfortunately, while many aged care facilities provide excellent standards of support in Australia, some residents suffer abuse at the hands of those who are meant to look after them.

In 2016, allegations of this nature began to surface in relation to the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health facility in Adelaide, South Australia. Public outrage forced the home to close in April 2017, but the scandal has led to a number of inquiries into what occurred.

One of these was the recently published report from the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) Bruce Lander. But did the investigation unveil instances of nursing home negligence? We've examined the findings to see what Mr Lander's inquiry discovered.

ICAC report slams Oakden failings

Mr Lander's report is scathing about the systemic failures that occurred at the Oakden facility. He made maladministration findings against five individuals in particular but described the lack of awareness among ministers and chief executives about the facility's poor standard of care as "breathtaking".

"Every South Australian should be outraged at the way in which these consumers were treated. It represents a shameful chapter in this state's history. It should not have happened. It must never happen again," Mr Lander explained.

The report highlighted several problems with the facility, including:

  • A shortage of nursing staff;
  • Poor-quality clinical documentation;
  • Dilapidated conditions within the facility;
  • Over-medication of residents;
  • A medically unsafe environment due to staffing levels and the lack of a clinical pharmacist;
  • Over-use of physical restraints on residents; and
  • A cumbersome management structure.

The rate of injuries among residents was also very high, notwithstanding actions taken by staff to reduce harm to individuals.

Nursing home negligence in Australia

The report emphasises the poor standard of care at Oakden, which could lead to nursing home negligence claims against the facility. Aged care providers owe consumers a duty of care and they can be found liable for any injuries or deaths that occur when this obligations is breached.

Investigations into the Oakden facility may be ongoing, but existing findings indicate negligence was a factor in a number of incidents at the home where people were hurt or suffered distress.

However, Oakden is not the only aged care home in Australia. Anyone who believes they or a loved one have suffered nursing home negligence should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss their case.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers is here to help. Please get in touch with us today for a free consultation and learn more about our no-win, no-fee service.