Group home care concerns

CLOSING: One of the buildings at the Stockton Centre, a large residential facility for people with disability that the NSW government has committed to closing by 2018.THE state government has ordered a review of clinical care needs at a Stockton disability group home after the death of one resident and the hospitalisation of another.
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The Minister for Disability Services, Ray Williams, said he was saddened bythe death at the group home and he offered his condolences to the family.

“My department has notified the NSW Ombudsman of the death and has provided full and unrestricted access to relevant records relating to reviewable deaths to allow him to investigate,” Mr Williams said.

“To address the hospitalisation of another client, my department is also undertaking a review of clinical care needs at that group home.”

As the Newcastle Herald reported last week, the two female residents had recently moved from the Stockton Centre, which the state government is moving to close, to a group home, run at this stage by the government, in suburban Stockton.

Asked about fears about the level of care in the group home,Mr Williams said:“I am advised two of the staff members that work at the group home hold registered nursing qualifications.

“All group home operators are required to comply with the NSW Disability Service Standards and implement a quality management system. I am proud that this government strengthened existing safeguards in 2014 by introducing the Disability Inclusion Act.”

But the NSW opposition and some disability advocates are gravely concerned about the situation at Stockton, with Port Stephens MP Kate Washington sayingthe government had been warned it was risking people’s lives in closing Stockton.

Ms Washington, opposition disability spokesperson Sophie Cotsis and Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp are pushing Mr Williams to take action after giving his office a letter of concern from the Stockton Centre Welfare Association, written by a former chief executive of the centre, Lorraine Yudaeff.

Lettter from Stockton Centre Welfare Association In her March 25 letter,Ms Yudaeff lists nine areas where “reality” falls far short of the government’s “commitment”.

She says having one organisation in charge of general care, another in charge of housing and a third in charge of specialist medical care constitutes “a veritable avalanche of problems”.

Stockton had in-house medical services but Ms Yudaeff said “it appears that already overburdened GPs … are extremely reluctant “to take group home residents as patients, meaningthese extremely vulnerable people” will be dependent on the general hospital system.

How The Herald broke the story: Hunter disability group home death to be investigated Ms Yudaeff questioned the level of care in the group homes, and said the loss of staff from Stockton was causing problems “as predicted”, including significant nurse shortages.

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