The aged care industry must make efforts to improve transparency following horrific examples of elder abuse at the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health facility in Adelaide, the families of the victims have claimed.
A review of the nursing home was published in April and showed a catalogue of problems, including widespread abuse, theft of residents’ belongings and overdosing.
Chief Psychiatrist Dr Aaron Groves conducted the investigation, with his 146-page report also showing poor leadership and cover-ups of nursing negligence within the facility.
Elder abuse ‘rampant’ at Oakden
The SA government announced Oakden would be shut down in the wake of the scandal, although the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) has launched a maladministration probe into the home’s practices.
However, ICAC will not be holding public hearings and does not have access to Cabinet documents, despite the fact it is meant to be investigating how much senior managers and politicians knew about the abuse.
Witnesses that disclose information to ICAC are also unlikely to see their statements made public, as boss Bruce Lander has full discretion over whether or not to release a report.
Loved ones of abused Oakden residents say they have no faith in the system because of the ongoing secrecy and lack of transparency surrounding the aged care sector.
Nursing home secrecy ‘still a problem’
According to Adelaide Now, the secrecy provisions governing the Aged Care Act are as strict as organised crime and terrorism laws.
Noleen Hausler admits she gets “very upset” when she sees how officials are handling the Oakden nursing home scandal. Her father, Clarence, was a resident at the facility, and she installed a camera in his bedroom after suspecting he was being treated poorly.
The video showed her 90-year-old father suffering 20 minutes of abuse at the hands of a carer, who aggressively force fed the dementia sufferer and suffocated him with a serviette.
“The secrecy – we’re still just getting the whitewash, or ‘Nothing to see here’ or ‘They’ve met the standard’, or ‘The authorities can’t apply the sanctions that they want to’,” she explained.
People who feel their loved ones have experienced elder abuse in aged care facilities in NSW may be able to seek compensation. Nursing homes owe residents a duty of care, which if breached through negligence could make them liable for damages.
If you would like to learn more about medical negligence claims, please get in touch with our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.