Staff super unpaid in Earle Haven aged care crisis

STAFF at a Gold Coast nursing home that was sensationally shut down this week amid a contract dispute had not been paid superannuation for eight months.

More than 70 frail residents of Earle Haven Aged Care, some with dementia, were removed to other nursing homes on the Gold Coast or to hospitals amid chaotic scenes on Thursday, a situation described by Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union secretary Beth Mohle as "criminal".

Medical records, medications, food and essential equipment, such as fridges, were all stripped from the facility before the residents were taken to other sites.

Union officials have been told the wi-fi was cut off and computers removed a few days before the evacuation.

"I don't know whether criminal charges can be laid, but the abandonment of these elderly, vulnerable Australians is criminal, in my view," Ms Mohle said.

"It's outrageous.

"If we ever need any more evidence that regulation in aged care is a joke, this is the poster child."

She has written to Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck seeking his intervention in providing Earl Haven Aged Care employees emergency payments after the loss of their jobs "due to the atrocious actions of their employer".

The staff were employed by the HelpStreet Group, a health care subcontractor responsible for the administrative, nursing, catering and other support services at Earl Haven.

A dispute with the nursing home's operator, People Care, triggered the forced transfer of the high-care residents.

 

Wi-fi was cut and computers removed a few days before residents were forced to leave. Picture: Supplied.
Wi-fi was cut and computers removed a few days before residents were forced to leave. Picture: Supplied.

"Our members have not been paid and given that it seems likely that their employer will be going into receivership, we seek your immediate action in providing emergency payments to all staff of Earle Haven Aged Care," Ms Mohle wrote in her letter.

"It is our understanding that in total 80 staff have been affected by this unprecedented closure of the facility."

She told The Sunday Mail the union had taken the issue of unpaid entitlements owing to nurses at the Nerang facility, including unpaid superannuation, to the Fair Work Commission.

In a letter to Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles, Senator Colbeck said his department would work with "relevant health and enforcement agencies" to identify any "criminal or other negligence which may have occurred".

 

Residents were evacuated from the nursing home on Thursday. Picture: Supplied.
Residents were evacuated from the nursing home on Thursday. Picture: Supplied.

The evacuation of Earl Haven residents has sparked concerns about the viability of other aged care providers in Queensland.

Three other nursing homes are understood to have approached Queensland Health claiming they are at risk of being financially unviable due to "insufficient" federal funding.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care will sit in Brisbane next month with a focus on regulation.

Ms Mohle said the Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union had been campaigning for minimum nurse to resident ratios in aged care for years.

"There's not even a requirement to have a registered nurse on duty 24/7," Ms Mohle said.

The Federal Government has set up a hotline for families of Earle Haven residents. Call 1800 931 299.



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