AGED CARE: Shock claim by former Earle Haven staff

FORMER staff of the beleaguered Earle Haven nursing home say they were purchasing their own equipment to cover shortages, in the lead-up to the mass evacuation of the facility.

According to those who were employed by contractor HelpStreet, operators were tightening their belt long before they left over a contract breakdown in mid-July, leading to the emergency removal of more than 70 residents.

Barbara Healey, whose sister-in-law suffers from dementia and was moved out of Earle Haven's high care wing, is seen outside the Earle Haven Retirement Village on the Gold Coast. Photo: Darren England
Barbara Healey, whose sister-in-law suffers from dementia and was moved out of Earle Haven's high care wing, is seen outside the Earle Haven Retirement Village on the Gold Coast. Photo: Darren England

Julie Poacher, who worked for the company as a nursing assistant from late 2017 to January this year, said she had taken to purchasing her own disposable wipes in order to service the needs of patients.

"Incontinence pads were running short and there were complaints about the number of disposable chucks being used, staff morale was down," Ms Poacher said.

"We got to the point where I was bringing the chucks in so there wasn't any complaints about what was being used, we need them to clean things like faeces so can't really skimp.

"Others took the ones from under the kitchen sink."

Ms Poacher said a company-wide move to shift staff off casual into permanent part-time positions also led to more staff turnover.

"People were earning less than they had been before - I was told if you need to get another job that is fine, we can't extend your hours. But at the same time they were advertising for more night staff.

"It got to a point where staff were changing over regularly, you didn't know who was on from one day to the next."

Arthur Miller, boss of Earle Haven Retirement home. Photo: John Gass
Arthur Miller, boss of Earle Haven Retirement home. Photo: John Gass

Ms Poacher and two other former staff members who chose not to be named said Nursing Union reports on low staffing levels were correct.

HelpStreet CEO Kris Bunker earlier argued their involvement in the facility had "turned the place around".

The Federal government investigation into the cause of the centre shutdown continues.

The facility which is managed by People Care is currently under a sanction, which means it is unable to take on new residents.

The revocation of approved provider status will be in place for a period of six months while the facility is managed by an administrator.

This is not the first time such a sanction has been in place.

Earle Haven residents meeting on the Gold Coast. Picture: Greg Stolz
Earle Haven residents meeting on the Gold Coast. Picture: Greg Stolz

In June 2016 the department identified a "serious risk to care recipients at the service" which included a failure to ensure appropriate clinical care, medication and skin integrity.

In 2007 an adviser was also appointed after the agency identified a serious risk. The issue was resolved a month later.



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