What’s behind our damning aged care crisis


STAFF shortages are behind shocking assaults, medication bungles and neglect in nursing homes across Queensland, damning new government inspections reveal.

A Sunday Mail investigation has exposed 35 Queensland aged care homes - one in every 14 - that failed federal government quality checks during 2018-19, including 16 that posed a serious risk to residents.

Inspectors uncovered assaults by a resident with dementia at Forest Lake Lodge, in Brisbane's south, during an audit in March.

"Systems in place do not ensure the service is meeting regulatory requirements in relation to assaults perpetrated by a care recipient with cognitive impairment,'' the audit report says.

Forest Lake Lodge did not respond to requests for comment, and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission would not reveal whether staff or fellow residents had been assaulted.

Blue Care and Churches of Christ Care each flunked quality checks for four nursing homes, and were criticised for understaffing.

The commission cut short the accreditation for the Gracehaven nursing home in Bundaberg after an audit last October found it was so short-staffed that residents were "not receiving appropriate clinical care". Staff failed to follow doctors' orders, and residents were left in pain waiting for prescribed medication, the audit found.

An inspection of Blue Care Gracemere in Rockhampton last September revealed "insufficient staff'' to feed, shower or help residents go to the toilet promptly.

Regis Kuluin, on the Sunshine Coast, had its accreditation cut short until November this year after failing quality standards for staffing, pain management, skin care and palliative care.

Inspectors found the home did not have enough staff to care for residents in a "timely manner'' and had ignored doctors' orders for pain relief and wound care.

"Management is unable to demonstrate that staff practices maintain the comfort and dignity of terminally ill care recipients … (or that) the home provides a safe and comfortable living environment,'' the audit found.

A Regis spokeswoman said the home had implemented a "comprehensive improvement plan".

Kaloma Care for the Aged, in Goondiwindi, was criticised in March over failures to follow doctors' orders.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union secretary Beth Mohle said chronic, widespread understaffing in aged care homes exposed residents to "unnecessary pain, suffering and premature deaths".