Court Clears Aged Care NFP of “Serious Risk” Claims
10 December 2015 at 9:53 am
The Federal Court has awarded financial compensation and quashed “serious risk” claims made by a government quality assurance agency against the Queensland Baptist nursing home group, Carinity.
The court ruled that the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency had “failed to observe the requirements of procedural fairness” and ordered the government agency compensate Carinity by paying $25,000 of its costs.
The orders were made by Justice Rangiah after the Agency sought a pre-trial settlement before the legal action initiated by Carinity was due to start last week.
Carinity (formerly Queensland Baptist Care) is a Not for Profit organisation operating nine aged care and retirement communities across Queensland, including Karinya Aged Care Community in Laidley.
The Federal Court decision found the Agency “failed to observe the requirements of procedural fairness” in making “findings adverse” to Carinity in its Serious Risk Report.
The Court made orders “quashing the decision” of the Agency that Carinity had “placed one or more of its care recipients at serious risk”.
The Agency has also been ordered to take all necessary steps to remove, and to keep removed, from its website any direct or indirect reference to the Serious Risk Report.
Media reports in 2014 claimed that the nursing home group failed to meet multiple standards after being investigated by government assessors from the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, a statutory regulator body.
The finding of “serious risk” by the Agency in February triggered a decision by the Department of Social Services to impose sanctions on Carinity’s Karinya Aged Care Community Centre.
The Department subsequently made a decision in June to overturn its sanctions and remove them from the public record. However, Carinity said the Agency maintained its finding of “serious risk” and continued to make reference to it on its website.
Carinity CEO Jon Campbell said the events of 27 and 28 February had caused considerable distress to many people in the Carinity family, including elderly residents and their families, Carinity employees and volunteers.
“Carinity and our dedicated staff are, and always have been, fully committed to the welfare and safety of all those in our care. In our view these favourable Court orders vindicate our position from the outset that there was never a serious risk to the health and safety of residents at Carinity’s Karinya Aged Care Community ” Campbell said.
“The Federal Court decision… expressly states the Agency ‘failed to observe the requirements of procedural fairness’ in making ‘findings adverse’ to Carinity in the Serious Risk Report.
“We are very pleased with the resolution as we can now concentrate on our most important task of enriching the lives of our residents and supporting their families.
“Our working relationship with the Agency has always remained professional. We respect the Agency’s important role and we trust they respect the vital work of Carinity’s skilled staff.
“With the litigation now resolved, we look forward to continuing to build a cooperative and productive relationship with the Agency and the Department.”