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Deputy Commissioner Highlights Lack Of Clarity In Retirement Village Care

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall today released a report criticising an aged care facility and three registered nurses for the care they provided to an elderly man.

The aged care facility operates both a rest home and hospital, and a retirement village on the same site.

The elderly man was living independently in a cottage at the retirement village. While walking nearby, he fell and hit the back of his head. When he returned home, he sought assistance from nurses at the rest home/hospital onsite.

The Deputy Commissioner was critical of shortcomings at the facility which left staff unclear of their responsibilities to village residents living independently and resulted in a delay in escalating the man’s care.

Ms Wall noted that while the man did not have an agreement with the facility for care services, his agreement included that a medical practitioner would be available on call at all times for emergencies.

She was critical of two nurses for incompletely documenting their assessment of the man, and of another nurse for not adequately assessing the man and leaving him alone while awaiting the ambulance.

"Operators of retirement villages with onsite rest homes and hospitals should recognise the professional responsibilities of their nurses to respond appropriately in such circumstances," Ms Wall said.

The facility missed opportunities to fully inform the man’s family, accurately record the man’s assessment, and offer extended monitoring following a head injury.

"I recommend that the facility consider improving the information that they provide to village residents about emergencies, medical incidents and requests for assistance," she said.

She also recommended that the facility undertake a review of its relevant policies and procedures; implement a training programme on falls, assessment and monitoring for its staff; and provide an apology to the man’s family.

The full report on case 18HDC01025 is available on the HDC website.

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