Julie McStay raises risks for home care providers after WA Coroner’s findings

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We were in discussion recently with Hynes Legal about the risks being faced by village operators applying to be a home care provider. Julie McStay, Director of their national aged care and retirement living team, pointed to the death at home of a 75-year-old woman in WA and the coroner’s findings, as a warning. This is her (edited) summary.

The woman lived at home and received support from her adult children as well as home care services under an Extended Aged Care at Home Package.

The cause of death was organ failure due to sepsis, likely from infected pressure sores, in the context of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus and ischaemic heart disease.

Treatment was hampered

The Coroner found that the home care and treatment provided by the home care provider was hampered by:

  • its regular on-going failure to supply dressing supplies for nursing staff;
  • inefficient and confusing means of communication between staff members; and
  • an occasional lack of support, including lack of supervision and training.

However, there was no evidence to establish that these inadequacies by the home care provider resulted in a level of care that was so substandard as to contribute to the woman’s death.

There is a clear message. Providers are encouraged to:

  • review their processes in the ongoing assessment of care recipients
  • review communication systems
  • review information that is provided to ALL caregivers, including family

Coroner’s recommendation to home care providers

The coroner’s report highlights several key issues to consider:

  1. Home care providers should generate a document to be provided to each person involved in a client’s care (including family carers), detailing their relevant roles and responsibilities. • This recommendation arose due to a misunderstanding between the provider and family about the role of the family in the deceased’s care, including whether the family were assisting the deceased to shower over the weekend. • Having a written plan will ensure reasonable expectations are set regarding the level and type of care to be provided.
  2. Clients’ needs should be assessed by home care providers on an ongoing basis. Care plans should be reviewed regularly and whenever a change in their condition occurs.
  3. Where a care recipient is partly reliant on care givers (other than the provider), they should be involved in the care planning and reviews to understand changing needs and their role in the client’s care.
  4. If a home care provider considers that the level of care it is able to provide under the home care package cannot meet the care recipient’s needs, they should discuss this with the client and their next of kin.

A home care provider is not expected to provide services outside of the funding available under a home care package without receiving remuneration. However, providers should still inform the client and their next of kin of other options that might be available if their needs increase beyond the scope of the package, e.g. topping up the package with fee for service or moving into residential aged care.

Find out more here.




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