Families prepare to sue Victorian aged care homes over alleged negligence: media reports

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The operators of Melbourne outbreak sites St Basil’s Home for the Aged and Epping Gardens are reportedly being threatened with class actions from relatives accusing the homes of negligence.

The class actions would allege that Greek Archdiocese of Australia, which runs St Basil’s Homes, and Heritage Care, which operates Epping Gardens, breached the duty of care they owed their residents, according to The Age.

The Federal Government could also be included as a defendant in any litigation given its time in charge of St Basil’s from July 21 when it took over the home’s management with replacements staff.

Melbourne businessman Jack Karikas told the paper that he would be part of an anticipated class action against St Basil’s, where his 85-year-old mother-in-law had become infected.

Mr Karikas said he and several other families had engaged lawyers to sue St Basil’s, which is also now being investigated over five COVID-19 deaths by the Victorian Coroner.

The number of COVID-19 cases connected to St Basil’s is now 161.

Tony Carbone, managing partner of Carbone Lawyers, also said he was acting on behalf of several families affected by the outbreak at Epping Gardens, as the number of cases linked to the facility climbed to 172 on Thursday.

Mr Carbone told The Age that he expected to issue civil proceedings in the Supreme Court as early as next week against Epping Gardens.

He said there was alleged evidence of neglect, inadequate staffing and poor training at the aged care centre even before the outbreak of COVID-19.

St Basil’s Chairman Konstantin Kontis declined to comment to The Age on the prospect of legal action against the centre but defended the conduct of his staff.

“I deny all allegations against St Basil’s. We did nothing wrong up until 9am, July 22, when we left,” Mr Kontis said.

Meanwhile, The Age has also reported that Mr Kontis said the care of residents wasn’t properly documented at St Basil’s when Aspen Medical moved into the home.

He said some files had gone missing from the facility and he had also reported missing drugs of addiction, including opiates, to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

A spokesman for Aged Care Minister, Senator Richard Colbeck told The Age that he had ordered an investigation into St Basil’s concerns.