Disturbing claims amid ‘chaos’ of nursing home closure
DISTURBING claims nurse staff were unable to give drinks to elderly residents during the Earle Haven exodus have emerged as those removed face uncertain futures in temporary homes.
In shocking scenes last Thursday, emergency services rushed to the Nerang rest home's aged care wing to help with a mass relocation of 70 frail pensioners.
Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU) Secretary Beth Mohle yesterday alleged: "One of our members attempted to get a drink for a resident, she was told she couldn't because it was to be loaded and taken away with the fridges."
The relocation debacle was sparked when nursing home contractor HelpStreet walked out due to a contract breakdown with nursing home owner PeopleCare.
As fallout continued yesterday, the Bulletin can reveal:
- Earle Haven's millionaire owner Arthur Miller told 800 remaining retirement village residents Earle Haven it was business as usual for them;
- Some relocated Earle Haven residents in limbo hope to return to the familiar facility;
- Some families claim other homes they have been moved to have begun to put on pressure to sign long term contracts;
- Earle Haven aged care has been banned from accepting new residents until next January and the "unprecedented" situation referred to the Royal Commission into the industry, according to aged care nurse Karen Heard.
HelpStreet CEO Kris Bunker faced the media yesterday, claiming through tears the business had "no intention" to leave the premises last Thursday, when his management told 90 employees they would no longer be paid.
Instead Mr Bunker claimed they were told to leave the site by PeopleCare.
However, last week a HelpStreet spokesperson had said a contract dispute "forced their hand."
HelpStreet also claims it worked "in conjunction with authorities" despite clearing the building of assets and calling triple-0 that afternoon for help.
The claims are disputed by authorities involved, including the state's Queensland Health which alleged the company prevented paramedics from moving residents.
"When paramedics and Gold Coast Health staff arrived on site, the situation was chaotic," a spokesman said.
"They were initially prevented from transferring residents to other facilities until the Qld Police Service intervened. If the private operator considers this 'co-operation' we'd hate to see them being uncooperative."
Five Queensland health executives also said they were only made aware of the issue via the triple 0 call Thursday afternoon - not any earlier.
QNMU's Ms Mohle said the union had missed a call from HelpStreet at on Thursday at 9am.
"We have been advised a message was left around nine asking us to call back, but the person they contacted was away," Ms Mohle said.
"Equipment was being taken when we got there.
"We didn't work in 'conjunction' with HelpStreet, they advised us on what they were doing," she said. "We were not involved in decision making."
The Bulletin understands that two storage containers were allegedly hired at a Nerang facility that morning by HelpStreet.
Funds deducted from residents accounts will also be returned according to HelpStreet.
Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said assessment of the situation was ongoing: "Once complete they will provide advice in relation to returning to the facility.
"The Department of Health is also conducting an investigation into the circumstances that led to this situation."
Mr Miller called a meeting yesterday to assure the 800-plus worried residents of the retirement village "we are OK".
"Earle Haven's very good - we are not in administration and we don't have any debt to anybody," he told residents.
"You don't have to worry about yourselves in your units. We are continuing business as usual."