Monday, March 15, 2021

Family wants answers after granny left to rot to death in Regis Birkdale aged care centre

A bayside aged care facility and a GP are being investigated after the family of an elderly woman revealed shocking details of how their grandmother died in a pool of her own body fluids and sepsis had rotted her leg to the bone.

Norma Palmer, 89, died after being rushed to hospital from Regis Birkdale, the aged care facility she had moved into 10 months before.

A visiting enrolled nurse to Regis found the skin on Mrs Palmer’s left leg had rotted through to the bone and the skin on her back reddened and bleeding, burned from lying in urine.

The enrolled nurse, from Care Pact, a wound care speciality service, called for immediate and urgent hospital treatment.

Mrs Palmer was taken first to nearby Redland Hospital, then to QEII Hospital before dying three days later at Princess Alexandra Hospital.

Now Mrs Palmer’s Wellington Point family wants answers over the death of their grandmother in the wake of a coroner’s report criticising her care by a GP and her bayside aged care home.

The coroner found Mrs Palmer’s death in July last year was a health care related death reportable under the Coroner’s Act.

Coroner Don Buchanan called for Regis Birkdale to conduct a clinical review of its practices along with the general practitioner who was overseeing Mrs Palmer’s wound treatment.

Findings from those two reports are with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, which released preliminary details from Regis identifying “multiple and significant gaps” in Mrs Palmer’s care.

The coroner’s report, based on findings from the Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit, said there were “multiple concerns” with Mrs Palmer’s GP, who had failed to act when her blood haemoglobin and potassium readings fell to critical levels.

Mr Buchanan also said there was no evidence of an ordered CT scan being performed.

However, he found the rotting leg wound the most concerning. The family took graphic photographs of Mrs Palmer’s leg just before she died. They show a gaping blackened wound with yellowing skin exposing Mrs Palmer’s ankle bone.

The report said the GP had not adhered to “the basic cares”, such as good nutrition, the use of compression garments or controlling diabetes.

“The failure to appropriately manage the lower limb ulcer has contributed to the death of Mrs Palmer,” the report said.

“I have no concerns regarding he care provided by the Princess Alexandra Hospital, QEII Hospital or the Redland Hospital.

“The care provided by the residential aged care facility to Mrs Palmer was consistent with GP advice and wound care management plans, but with inadequate escalation of concerns in May to July.

“It would seem the staff were concerned but this was only ever escalated to the GP, and as a result, no one became involved in Mrs Palmer’s care until July 15 (three days before she died), at the time of the Care Pact review.”

Mr Buchanan said staff had highlighted their concerns about Mrs Palmer’s wounds in multiple chart entries and communications with the GP, including a request for a referral to a wound specialist in May, two months before she died.

It is the second Regis aged care facility to come under scrutiny by the federal aged care regulator.

In February, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission found there was an “immediate and severe risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of residents” at Regis Nedland in Western Australia.

The GP was referred to Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, which has not taken any action over the doctor.


Developer of Sydney’s ‘worst’ tower ordered to fix faults

The developer of a 16-storey apartment tower in western Sydney, which has been singled out by NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler as one of the worst he has inspected, has been handed orders forcing it to fix serious defects.

The tower at 93 Auburn Road in Auburn has joined a growing list of apartment buildings to have been slapped with orders in recent weeks as the commissioner steps up efforts to weed out shoddy work and restore public confidence in an industry still reeling from structural flaws in Sydney’s Opal and Mascot towers.

The orders to fix “serious defects” in the Auburn tower have been slapped on Goldenia Developments, whose sole director is a founder of Sydney property developer and builder Merhis.

The building at 93 Auburn Road is one of two towers known as Aya Eliza on a site in Auburn’s town centre which Merhis dubbed “architectural landmarks of the finest standard” on its website last year. The company’s website no longer makes any reference to the 251-unit development.

Karen Stiles, executive officer of the non-profit Owners Corporation Network, which represents apartment owners, said it “beggars belief that buildings so badly built” received occupation certificates which allowed developers to settle on apartments.

“They were clearly not fit for habitation. The new powers vested in the NSW Building Commissioner are essential to changing the toxic construction culture that has left innocent purchasers facing years of financial and emotional misery fighting to get the building quality they paid for,” she said.

In September, the Building Commissioner gained the power to enter and inspect building sites, prevent the issuing of occupation certificates, call for documents and order work to be stopped.

Mr Chandler said the defects found in the Auburn tower were at the “upper end of the range” compared to other buildings that had been inspected. “[The] current focus is on the remediation of the serious defects that exist in the building,” he said.

Mr Chandler said owners and tenants could remain in the Auburn building while the fixes were undertaken as it was safe to occupy.

He has previously revealed that the tower, which he has said is probably the worst he has inspected, was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in convincing the state government to enact tougher powers to protect apartment owners.

He was shocked when he first visited the building in October 2019, after Fire and Rescue NSW urged him to inspect the tower due to fire safety concerns. Just one of its two lifts worked, and the other shaft was too small to fit its lift due to construction flaws.

Last June Merhis said the defects raised had “largely already been resolved” or were in the process of being remedied. The developer did not respond to questions from the Herald about the latest orders to fix serious defects in the Auburn apartment building.

Inspectors visited the building again last October, finding “serious defects” in waterproofing, fixing of wall tiles to bathroom and ensuite walls, as well as falls in the tiled floor finishes to bathrooms and ensuites to ensure adequate surface drainage.

Notice of a proposed prohibition order for 93 Auburn Road was issued on Christmas Eve, which prompted the developer to make a proposal to fix the defects.

But the developer’s proposal did not address “all of the serious defects”, leading the commissioner to issue the prohibition and building work rectification orders.


Christian Porter launches defamation action against the ABC

Attorney-General Christian Porter has launched Federal Court defamation proceedings against the ABC over an online article that he alleges portrays him as the perpetrator of a “brutal” rape that contributed to a woman taking her own life.

The lawsuit is expected to put an end to calls for a public inquiry into his fitness to remain in office because a trial would ventilate many of the same issues before a judge, and involve the same witnesses.

In a statement of claim lodged on Monday, lawyers for Mr Porter, who is on medical leave, seek damages, including aggravated damages, for a February 26 article published on the ABC’s website, headlined “Scott Morrison, senators and AFP told of historical rape allegation against Cabinet Minister”.

ABC journalist Louise Milligan, who broke the story, is also named as a party to the lawsuit.

Mr Porter, who is not named in the ABC article, has retained a trio of high-powered lawyers, including Sydney barristers Bret Walker, SC, and Sue Chrysanthou, SC, and solicitor Rebekah Giles.

“Over the last few weeks, the Attorney-General has been subjected to trial by media without regard to the presumption of innocence or the rules of evidence and without any proper disclosure of the material said to support the untrue allegations,” Ms Giles said in a statement on Monday.

“The trial by media should now end with the commencement of these proceedings.”

Ms Giles said “the claims made by the ABC and Ms Milligan will be determined in a court in a procedurally fair process”.

She foreshadowed that Mr Porter would give evidence in the proceedings.

Ms Chrysanthou and Ms Giles have acted successfully for a series of high-profile defamation plaintiffs, many of them women, including Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young against former Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm.

The statement of claim alleges the ABC article conveys a series of false and defamatory claims about Mr Porter, including that he “brutally raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988”, when he was 17, and that this contributed to her taking her own life.

They say the article also conveys that Mr Porter was “reasonably suspected by police” of rape, warranting criminal charges being brought against him, and there were “reasonable grounds for suspecting” both that he committed the crime and that it “contributed to [the woman] taking her own life”.

Mr Porter has strenuously denied allegations made by a woman that he raped her during a debating tournament in Sydney in 1988. The woman took her own life last year, after telling NSW Police that she did not wish to pursue her complaint.

Mr Porter’s lawyers say the Attorney-General was readily identifiable as the unnamed cabinet minister in the ABC’s online story, and his name was “trending prominently on Twitter” after it was published.

He was “obliged” to identify himself on March 3, they say.

The statement of claim says factors that supported the identification of Mr Porter as the subject of the report included a Four Corners broadcast in November last year that presented Mr Porter as “a sexist and misogynist”.

The lawyers also say that only six male members of cabinet were about the same age as the woman in 1988 and, of those, only Mr Porter and two others were senior cabinet ministers. A photo caption in the article said the allegation involved a senior minister.

On the day the article was published, visits to Mr Porter’s Facebook page and website “increased significantly”, the statement of claim says.

Mr Porter’s lawyers argue the ABC and Milligan should pay aggravated damages, which are awarded in cases where a party’s conduct is considered “improper, unjustifiable or lacking in bona fides”, because they knew Mr Porter was readily identifiable as the subject of the article and “would ultimately be compelled to publicly respond”.

They say the ABC and Milligan also knew the allegations “could never be proved in any criminal or civil proceeding” but proceeded anyway “to ensure that he was publicly condemned and disgraced in the absence of any finding against him”.

Ms Giles, principal director of law firm Company (Giles), said that “if the ABC and Ms Milligan wish to argue the truth of the allegations, they can do so in these proceedings”.

The ABC will file a defence to the proceedings at a later date. It is not yet known if the broadcaster will seek to rely on the defence of truth, which would effectively result in a rape trial being held in the context of a civil case.

In defamation cases, the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities, rather than the higher criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt, but it is still a high bar when the allegations are serious.

As is common in many cases involving media outlets, it is likely the ABC will argue the article does not convey the very serious imputations of guilt or suspicion alleged by Mr Porter but lower-level claims.

An ABC spokesperson said: “The ABC will be defending the action.”


WA election: Mark McGowan declares Labor will run a 'centrist' government after overwhelming win

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan says "there is nothing to fear" about a new State Parliament dominated by a single party following Labor's historic victory on Saturday night, which decimated the Liberals.

Early results indicated Labor was on track to hold at least 52 of the Parliament's 59 Lower House seats. It is too early to know the exact makeup of the Upper House, with counting continuing.

But early results indicated Labor could be on track for the holy grail — a majority in both houses of Parliament.

"I don't know what the outcome will be in the Upper House at this point in time, I think it is pretty speculative," Mr McGowan said on Sunday morning.

"People have seen — with me and my government — that we are very centrist, we are very 'middle of the road', we are very progressive, we are caring, but we are responsible. "There is nothing to fear."

Mr McGowan said this centrist approach had helped him to achieve the historic victory. "That is what you have got to do in political life, you have got to appeal to everyone," he said.

"Over the last nine years I have been leader, that is the way I have oriented my leadership — that is the way I hope I have oriented the party. "That is the future for Labor as a political party.

"I just want to continue the party in that direction. I would urge the party all over Australia to go in that direction."

Mr McGowan said he would turn his attention to appointing a new Cabinet, but would not be drawn on who that might include, or who would take over as Treasurer.

"I will make sure I consult my colleagues, but I will have a major say," he said.

Mr Kirkup said he did not regret waving the white flag early in the election campaign, nor would he take back the Liberals' controversial green energy jobs plan — decisions which attracted strong criticism from his colleagues.





Paul said...

It's really simple. Nursing Homes hire few nurses, with most of the work being done by Assistants, most of whom are trained via Tafe (or worse, private providers) who come out with various kinds of "Cert 1, Cert 2...or whatever these days gives one a licence to wipe bottoms and make beds. Less overtly stated but known is that most of these low-wage workers are flogged through under-staffing (because health-care wages, like everything else these days are too expensive) and, most of them are diversities who quite frankly have no commonality with those they are looking after (see: demographic change, some of them actually hate us) and are more concerned with not getting in "trouble" than they are with providing care (I can just hear it: RN "how is Mrs Jones in 14?" "oh..she fine dat waarrne she say she gooood") Nursing homes with "Investments" as part of their listed identity are a often a problem too.

The other unstated is that Nursing home care reflects the truth of the amount many families are willing to pay. Who wants to see that lucrative inheritable asset in inner-urban Sydney sold just to pay for care that the government apparently should provide because old Auntie Bess paid taxes and stuff?

I sound cynical (and I am) because care of the very old is a society/conscience issue as much as anything, and fig-leaves of moral outrage at poor care don't really conceal the choices (personal and societal) that the system as it currently is reflects.

Paul said...

“beggars belief that buildings so badly built” received occupation certificates which allowed developers to settle on apartments."

Welcome to Sydney Karen. Think that's bad? Try anything built by Meriton/Triguboff. You aint' seen nuthin' yet.

(commonly known around town as No-Merritt-on).