Shine Lawyers launch another class action over COVID outbreak at Melbourne aged care home

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Yet another aged care provider is facing the prospect of legal action following a coronavirus outbreak at their aged care home during Victoria’s second wave.

Shine Lawyers is planning a class action against Cumberland Manor Aged Care, which is located in Sunshine North, 13km west of the Melbourne CBD, alleging that the 74-bed home had inadequate infection prevention and control measures in place during an outbreak that began in July and infected 53 residents, 54 staff and 17 close contacts.

The outbreak caused 11 resident deaths before the outbreak was declared closed on 13 October.

The operator of the home Primary Caring Pty Ltd, was sanctioned by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) on 6 August for breaching four standards – ongoing assessment and planning with consumers, personal care and clinical care, human resources, and organisational governance – which meant that the home could not accept any new residents and had to appoint an independent adviser until it was free of COVID cases.

The lead plaintiff is a woman, whose 89-year-old mother died from coronavirus at the home.

Shine’s Special Counsel Tom Bradley told 9News the home also failed to act in the best interests of residents, did not provide a safe and comfortable environment, and failed to communicate effectively with residents’ families.

“The facility seemed not to be interested in ensuring that COVID-19 tests were taking place,” he said.

“There were issues with residents and staff and visitors being able to wander around the facilities without control at all and certainly without the appropriate PPE.”

But Cumberland Manor has rejected the allegations, telling 9News in a statement: “Cumberland Manor has a commitment to ensuring that all of its staff are fully accredited and up to date with clinical best practice at all times, this included ensuring that all staff had undertaken the training provided by the Federal Department of Health with respect to coronavirus and the facility had adjusted its infection plan prior to any resident contracting COVID-19 in accordance with this training.”

Cumberland is not the first home to face a class action following a COVID outbreak.

Heritage Care and St Basil’s Home for the Aged are also facing class actions launched by Carbone Lawyers over outbreaks at their Epping Gardens and Fawkner homes respectively.

Shine will still have to find more families to join however – a class action requires at least seven plaintiffs.

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