What you missed at last week’s Royal Commission hearings: Commission shifts into questioning operators, with strong responses

Published on

Over the past seven days the Sydney-based inquiry has shifted to individual resident case studies and the operators responsible.

Anglicare, Bupa and private operator Columbia Aged Care (in regional NSW) have all been called to appear.

(The full daily reports are available in our system newsletter The Daily COMMISSION. Subscribe here).

The stories are not on the surface complimentary, but in our assessment, each reveal that there is a system supporting care and that it is largely working – even in these cases which had been brought forward to demonstrate otherwise.

This is best demonstrated by the performance of each of the operator representatives that were being quizzed by the heavyweight lawyers (who have a big team of researchers behind them and the ability to cherry pick which cases they are going to call up to the Commission).

On Wednesday, the Commission’s lawyers suggested a Resident Manager of Anglicare’s Brian King Gardens facility (Richard Farmilo) in Sydney was ‘gaming’ the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) system by upgrading the care needs level of a resident from ‘medium’ to ‘high’.

But Mr Farmilo stood his ground amid intense interrogation from senior counsel, who questioned his timely request for a re-assessment of the resident’s pain management needs just before the facility was due for an ACFI assessment.

“No, I don’t accept that . . . I say that’s in reverse. The ACFI submission would have been made in response to changing care needs . . .  to be a reflection of the care that the resident is receiving”, said Mr Farmilo.

The same strength was shown by the GM of Operations at Columbia Aged Care’s Oberon village (Marian Anderson), who maintained under firm questioning that the level of staff supervision in her facility – two nurses in the unit at all times – was sufficient when a female resident was attacked by another male resident.

“I think it’s the unpredictability of people living with dementia where their triggers for their behaviours occur spontaneously, as I had said, and without notice”.

Ms Anderson admitted that the facility had been issued with a non-compliance order by the ACQSC in March 2018 for “failing to effectively manage the needs of residents with challenging behaviours”, but noted that they has engaged in significant re-education and training for staff caring for residents with dementia since that order – and before this incident occurred.

“We endeavour to minimise the risk but I don’t think we can totally prevent the risk.”

See below story for the details on Bupa’s appearance.