Nursing Homes

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There a more than 3000 nursing homes around the country, and fortunately most of them are well run and the residents are happy.

But sadly there are still some like Adelaide's Kensington Residential Care Facility, where residents have been subjected to shocking neglect and a poor standard of care, much to the alarm of Ageing Minister Christopher Pyne.

"In this case, the Government took the firmest action it could and that is to impose sanction on the home because we weren't happy with the safety of residents in that point in time", he said.

In one of the worst cases investigated by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency, they found a litany of serious issues which have placed the care and health of its residents at risk. They include not being given enough food or fluids, poor pain management, inadequate nursing care, skin and personal hygiene, one resident was even found with mould growing on a set of false teeth which hadn't been cleaned in more than a month. In all, the home failed 22 out of 44 key areas of operation.

"I am glad Aged Care did an unannounced visit. In this we felt needed sanctions, now its up to them to get their act together and residents get the quality they deserve", said Mr Pyne.

But it only happened after two nurses blew the whistle on the practices going on in there. Not because of the Government's watchdog agency which had recently given it a tick of approval and renewed its accreditation for another three years.

Mr Pyne responded by saying: "If a home continues to fall below standards, licences can be taken away and transferred but I do have to remember this is a home to those residents, best thing is to get the home up to standard rather than remove those residents."

However, what's really disturbing here is that the owners and operators of this home have been caught out in the past for the same appalling practices and conduct.

Ten years ago we exposed what was going on there, but only after we won a long legal battle to air the story. Then it was known as the Lewis Nursing Home. Nursing staff, residents and their families came to us with chilling accounts of neglect, shocking working conditions and penny-pinching to maximise profits.

The home is still owned by the Bennet family. It gets around 2.5 million dollars, or about $168 dollars per day per resident in funding from taxpayers. Former South Adelaide footballer Michael Bennett runs the business along with his brother and sister. They also have homes at Valley View and Gawler, where there don't appear to be problems.

Ten years ago Mr Bennett flatly rejected there was any abuse or negligence. But going on the latest revelations, and from what agency staff who've worked there told us, little seems to have changed except the name of the home, much to the disgust of Lorraine Taylor whose complaints about the treatment of her late father featured in our first story.

"I was shocked after what my father and other residents went through at the time to know others are still going through this, I was appalled", says Lorraine.

Residents in nursing homes today have much to thank Lorraine and the nurses for speaking out about the horrors they witnessed. It was because of their courageous actions that the Federal Government introduced the stringent accountability that now exists, but Council of the Ageing's Ian Yates says a review is needed.

We tried to contact Michael Bennett about the latest problems but he has not returned our calls. We also tried his mother and father, who are the registered owners of Kensington. They didn't respond when we called around to their lavish multi-million dollar mansion in leafy well to do Unley Park. In the meantime funding has been cut off for six months as part of the sanctions that have been imposed on Kensington Residential Care Facility.

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