Anglicare fires back over handling of COVID-19 death toll

Anglicare has hit back at Premier Gladys Berejiklian for telling them to "lift their game", saying family members will be allowed access to their elderly relatives in the stricken Newmarch House nursing home but only if they are in palliative care.

Ms Berejiklian has escalated concerns about a "lack of communication" between residents and their relatives at the Newmarch to the Federal Government in a damning indictment of management at the centre.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian escalated concerns over Newmarch House to the federal government.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian escalated concerns over Newmarch House to the federal government.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard has also written to the federal aged care minister, who has jurisdiction over retirement villages, to say the company that runs the facility needs to step up.

Ms Berejiklian said the way relatives of people in the facility are being treated is "not acceptable".

"You need to lift your game in communicating to loved ones. It's not acceptable to keep people in the dark," she said.

Yesterday, two more staff at the facility were diagnosed with the deadly disease.

Of the pair, one staff member had been working in the aged care home before the diagnosis, but wearing protective equipment.

 

Grant Millard hit back at suggestions communication was poor.
Grant Millard hit back at suggestions communication was poor.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said: "We will be investigating the source of infection in that case".

It comes after the death toll at the centre rose to 11 with four residents dying in a 21-hour period and the number of new infections increasing every day.

Three women - aged 91, 90, and 89 - and another resident aged 93 died yesterday.

Anglicare chief executive Grant Millard responded today saying some relatives were allowed in and all were getting "daily emails".
"We are allowing families of those in palliative care some access under strict controls, however, for others we simply cannot afford the risk, of further spreading COVID-19," Mr Millard said.

"Since the outbreak on Easter Sunday, we have made sure to send daily emails to families of our residents at Newmarch House. "And for every one of our residents who are sadly COVID-19 positive, we are in regular phone contact, at least once a day, with that resident's designated representative - the person responsible. "It is a legal requirement for providers to only communicate directly with the 'person responsible' for the resident, maintaining the choice exercised by the resident and observing privacy law. "It is very hard, we know, when others in the families are worried about the health of their mother or father, but unfortunately, as the provider under the Act, we can only communicate directly with the person responsible." 

Family members of Newmarch House residents are furious at the standard of care and communication.
Family members of Newmarch House residents are furious at the standard of care and communication.

Relatives of grieving residents of troubled Newmarch House aged care home are calling for a memorial service to honour their friends once the coronavirus pandemic has eased.

Liz Lane's mother has dementia at the care home yet tells her daughter she knows residents are dying and there is "something wrong."

"We need to have a memorial service when this is over so residents can accept their close friends have passed and grieve and properly, "she said.

"It's been a highly traumatic time for people in the home.

"A lot of them want to get out. They know something is wrong even if I have dementia, mum tells me she knows 'something is wrong.'"

Jan Doble, 81, who had tested positive for the virus, has lost more than three close friends she considers family at the home.

 

 

"She's been left very sad after losing more than three people, we worry that when this is all over all the residents will be allowed out of the rooms and will be shocked to see all the empty chairs in the common room," her daughter-in-law Sharon said.

"When you lose someone at that age it knocks you, the residents at Newmarch are like family, and it brings home your own mortality.

"When this is all over we want to sit down with the residents and have a coffee with them all and stay close and remind them they are loved.

"A lot of them are struggling to cope with losing people they have grown to love."



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