Aged care home found to have ineffective plans to deal with potential COVID-19 outbreak

Staff at an aged care home in southern Queensland wore soiled cloth masks and were not given face shields, the federal aged care watchdog has found.

Key points:

  • Staff were using soiled masks at the TriCare Aged Care home in Toowoomba during an inspection in August
  • The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission also found infection control plans were inadequate
  • The Commission says changes have been made at the facility but it will take time to implement

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission inspected the TriCare Toowoomba Aged Care Residence in East Toowoomba in August.

It found TriCare’s infection control program was ineffective, and plans to manage a potential COVID-19 outbreak had not been implemented.

During the inspection, the commission found there was no supply of face shields at the facility,

It also found that staff had been given cloth masks but were not given consistent information about when the masks should be washed or worn.

“Soiled masks were observed to be worn by staff, and masks were worn under staff members’ chins or pulled down to speak to consumers,” the commission said.

The ABC understands the masks used had been made from second-hand sheets and required staff to insert a piece of gauze in the front as a means of protection.

The commission also found gloves were being used inappropriately, including staff not changing gloves after removing rubbish.

Masks used at TriCare

Staff at the TriCare aged care home in Toowoomba were given cloth masks to wear.(Supplied:)

Lack of social distancing

TriCare was also criticised for its pre-entry processes. The commission found visitors were required to perform their own temperature checks.

“There [were] no directions as to how to use the equipment or cleaning instructions,” it said.

The commission also found the aged care home’s foyer was crowded when it carried out their inspections and staff were not practising social distancing.

Tricare, in its response to the commission, said several improvements had been made to its service since the August inspection.

It said additional training had been implemented for staff, including the donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The commission said it acknowledged TriCare’s actions to ensure it had an effective COVID-19 outbreak management plan.

It said the actions would require time to be implemented and evaluated for their effectiveness.

TriCare has been contacted for comment.

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