A new report has revealed significant breaches of care and quality standards at a Darwin nursing home, including incidents of residents being harassed and inadequate care that resulted in a choking death. 

Key points:

  • Federal government investigation uncovered major breaches at Regis Tiwi aged care facility in April
  • The home was barred from admitting new residents under a Federal government sanction
  • The report found staff did not have the “skills and knowledge to manage risks”

The report by the federal government’s Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) found national aged care provider Regis Aged Care breached eight quality standards at its Regis Tiwi facility in Darwin’s northern suburbs, including not meeting the personal and clinical care needs of residents.

Federal government inspectors identified several concerning incidents involving the care of residents at the home.

In one instance, a resident known as “Consumer B”, choked to death after being given food that wasn’t in accordance with their prescribed diet.

The report also states that one resident’s wound was “infested with maggots” on several occasions over a four-month period.

“Dressings were completed ‘late’, between one to four days over the schedule dressing date set by clinical staff,” the report said.

Inspectors also found that staff failed to monitor and supervise one resident known as “Consumer D”, who was known to wander the unit and harass female residents.

Signs pointing to sections of the Regis Tiwi Gardens aged care facility.

A safety and compliance audit of Regis Tiwi Gardens aged care facility was carried out in April. (ABC News: Dane Hirst)

The report noted Consumer D was “aggressive” and exhibited “inappropriate behaviours towards female consumers”, detailing six incidents over a one-month period.

Another resident suffered a stroke following a fall, but staff failed to transfer them to hospital in a timely manner.

“Staff identified signs/symptoms of a stroke but did not follow-up or action until the [resident’s] representative alerted clinical staff,” the report said.

Inspectors found residents were being forced to live in unclean conditions, with dead cockroaches found in kitchen cupboards and a possum infestation.

“A [resident] was to be relocated from their room after three possums fell from the manhole,” the report said.

The report points to concerns with staff at Regis Tiwi, stating, “the service was unable to demonstrate the workforce is competent and [has] the knowledge and skills to effectively perform the roles”.

Sue Shearer from the NT’s Council on the Ageing (COTA) said that while the investigation’s findings were “abhorrent”, the pending oversight was “good news for families”.

“It’s disgusting that the people who have really nurtured us are treated like this,” she said. 

“[Regis Tiwi] will be very, very closely watched for the next six months to a year, if not longer.

“A lot of these particular providers in the Northern Territory, they’re managed from Queensland or South Australia, so they’re not really at the coalface, which is one thing we’re trying to change.”

She said COTA was calling on the government to ramp up unannounced audits and reviews on facilities and at residences where elderly people were receiving at-home care, “because a lot of those people in their own homes aren’t receiving the care they should receive as well”. 

Photo of an older woman with dyed blonde hair and a knowing smile

Council on the Ageing NT CEO Sue Shearer says the report’s findings are “abhorrent”.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

The Commission noted areas in which improvements needed to be made, including ensuring staffing levels at the home were sufficient.

The ACQSC completed the site audit in April, which resulted in sanctions being imposed on Regis Tiwi the following month.

The aged care home was barred from admitting new residents and receiving associated federal government payments.

In a statement, Regis Aged Care said the ACQSC lifted the sanction on September 30, allowing the home to take new admissions.

“Regis met all the conditions needed for the sanction to be lifted early,” Regis Aged Care said.

Earlier this month, the Northern Territory government announced more than 21 aged care patients in Royal Darwin and Palmerston hospitals would be moved into Regis Tiwi, in a bid to free up beds.

Under the agreement, NT Health provided extra staff to the home to help manage the transition.

Posted , updated 

Wound ‘infested with maggots’, harassment and choking death at Darwin aged care home detailed in new report
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