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Aged care watchdog slams Newmarch House management 


The nation’s aged care watchdog has delivered a scathing assessment of the way the Newmarch House aged care facility was being managed, as a coronavirus outbreak spread through staff and residents.

Nineteen residents have died, more than 70 cases have been recorded, and new management have been brought in from another aged care facility — the Dorothy Henderson Lodge, which had its own outbreak — to manage the response.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson said there were a number of issues around how the facility was being run, leading to her agency threatening the licence of Newmarch’s operators Anglicare.

“Effectively we were concerned for the wellbeing of the residents — which has been our primary focus all along,” Ms Anderson told the inquiry.

“There were ill informed decisions, or decisions which weren’t well enough informed, and they weren’t looking as far ahead as we needed them to in terms of the fundamentals

“Did they have sufficient staff, did the staff have the right skill set, were they managing their stock control adequately … were they on top of things sufficiently that we as a regulator could be assured that the safety and the wellbeing of the residents was well in hand?
“We did not have that assurance.”

The Federal Health Department’s Michael Lye also told the committee that in the initial stages of the outbreak, the facility was provided access to the nation stockpile of protective equipment — such as gowns and face masks.

But, Mr Lye said Newmarch management were struggling to tell the Department exactly what they were running short of.

“That’s something that we have worked with them on, and I think we now have a procedure in place to make sure that they can say to us ‘this is what we will need over the next seven to 14 days’,” he said.