St Vincent’s gets improvement notice for wandering resident

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St Vincent’s Care Services, a Not For Profit provider of aged care and retirement services in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, has been taken to court by Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions.

The action follows Victoria WorkSafe issuing an “improvement notice” in relation to an alleged incident three years ago, in which an 88-year-old resident of St Vincent’s Care Services Werribee left the facility and fell into a nearby road excavation.

On 23 March, County Court Judge Amanda Chambers said she would permit the case to be heard by a single judge, due to COVID-19 delaying trials, Star Weekly reported.

She said that St Vincent’s Care Services was charged with one offence of allegedly contravening a section of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Victoria) on March 10, 2018.

Judge Chambers said that on that day, an 88-year-old resident who used a walking frame, left the aged care facility via the reception area’s front door, about 8.38am. The aged care facility is located within Wyndham Health Precinct.

He was allegedly free to come and go from the facility without the need to enter a code into a keypad or any other requirement. In addition, the resident was not being treated for any major medical ailments or dementia.

Staff at the aged care facility became aware the man was missing after his daughter and son-in-law arrived for a visit, but could not find him.

About 11am, the man was located about 100 to 200 metres from the facility, where he had fallen into an area being excavated by road builders.

Judge Chambers said the man was badly injured and was transported to hospital for treatment.

Following the incident, WorkSafe inspectors attended the aged care facility and as a result of investigations, issued an improvement notice requiring St Vincent’s Care Services to implement a procedure to assess whether a resident was capable of leaving the facility, plus to record and monitor residents leaving and returning.

St Vincent’s Care Services implemented the procedure on 9 April, 2018.