Aged care facilities safety inadequate

Russ Porteous
CEO, Firewize
28 Aug, 2006

According to Melbourne Age journalist Carol Nader last Friday (August 25, 2006) the Victorian aged care centres cop flak

Here's an extract from the Melbourne Age article;

Aged care facilities have not improved in condition in the past five years, and more were at risk of "failing, inadequate or obsolete" infrastructure, a report by the Auditor-General finds.

The report found most facilities had not improved since 2001 and many still need rebuilding.

The State Government strongly disputed this.

Department of Human Services secretary Patricia Faulkner said the department did not agree with some findings as the methodology was "flawed". She said claims the overall condition of facilities had not improved was "simply not consistent with tangible fact".

The report, tabled in State Parliament yesterday, acknowledged that all facilities met Commonwealth certification standards. But it said its own survey of 49 centres found that 25 did not meet aspects of the criteria relating to fire safety standards. It recommended they be
reassessed from time to time to ensure they continued to meet standards.

Between 1999 and March 2006, the Government allocated $336 million to public sector residential aged care buildings for capital works. This year's budget provided an extra $130 million over three years.

The department believes the problem identified in the report is more about poor documentation than non-compliance. The report acknowledges that "a lack of documentation does not mean
that safety systems and equipment in a facility do not adequately address fire safety". But it says there is "insufficient evidence" to provide such assurances.

Aged Care Minister Gavin Jennings backed the department. He said some of the report's findings, particularly about fire safety, "don't ring true".

"I want to reassure members of the Victorian community that all Victorian public sector residential aged care facilities are fire safe and compliant and meet the standards required for their ongoing certification by the Commonwealth," he said.

But Opposition aged care spokeswoman Andrea Coote seized on the report as "a really damning indictment of this minister and the stewardship he has had of aged care".

Aged and Community Care Victoria chief executive Gerard Mansour said providers took safety requirements very seriously.

More information and a copy of the Auditors report can be found online at the Victorian Auditor-General's Office.