Lack of staffing blamed for Western Downs Regional Council’s closure of aged care facility Tarcoola

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An inability to attract registered nurses has been blamed for Queensland’s Western Downs Regional Council’s decision to close its aged care facility.

Western Downs Regional Council, which includes the towns of Dalby, Jandowae. Miles, Chinchilla, Wandoan and Tara, said it will “proceed with a planned, controlled and respectful closure of the 33-bed Tarcoola Residential Aged Care Facility” in Tara, 298km west northwest of Brisbane’s CBD.

“Tarcoola has been experiencing unacceptably low clinical staffing levels over an extended period of time. As operators, Council must have absolute confidence its aged care facilities are operating safely and the legislative and ethical standards of care are being met,” said Western Downs Regional Council in a statement.

“Despite extensive efforts to attract and retain suitably qualified and experienced clinical care staff at the facility, and several attempts to gain assistance from both the state and federal governments, clinical staffing levels remain at a critical level.”

“Council cannot continue to provide residential aged care through its Tarcoola facility in circumstances where it cannot unconditionally guarantee sustained quality care through the presence of consistent and appropriately qualified clinical staff.”  

“Based on clinical and legal advice, Council has been forced to proceed with a closure.”

Over the next three to four weeks the council plans to help relocate the residents to facilities inside and outside the region.

91-year-old Tarcoola resident Betty Shepheard told Chinchilla News that she had cried so much at the news that she did not have any tears left.

“It’s a hit to the heart and the gut, we just can’t take it in, as the ‘why they have done this to us?’ It’s a wonderful facility and the staff are amazing,” she said.

“I know council has their excuses, but they can’t even talk to us in person.”

The Weekly Source reported in May that Southern Cross Care Queensland has announced a $35 million redevelopment and expansion of Illoura Village in Chinchilla. That will not come in time for residents of Tarcoola RAC.