Treatment of Oakden residents labelled ‘a disgrace’

Report slams a culture of secrecy where process was ignored.

Oakden a ‘shameful chapter’

The treatment of residents at the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service was a “shameful chapter” in South Australia’s history, according to the state’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander

Mr Lander released his official report into Oakden on Wednesday.

“It should not have happened. It must never happen again,” he said.

The 456-page report, Oakden: A Shameful Chapter in South Australia’s History, makes damning findings of maladministration against five individuals and the public authority and contains 13 key recommendations.

The mental health facility was shut down last year after the family of the late Bob Spriggs went public to complain that he had been given 10 times the amount of his prescribed medication and had unexplained bruises before his death.

Other complaints, detailing rough handling of patients, excessive use of restraints and injuries, surfaced.

Mr Lander, who visited the closed facility, described it as “a disgrace” that was unfit for anyone, let alone the frail and vulnerable. It was a place where process and procedures were forgotten or ignored and where systemic failures were allowed to continue for more than a decade, he said.

“Every South Australian should be outraged at the way in which these consumers were treated. It represents a shameful chapter in this state’s history.”

The report levels fierce criticism against SA Government ministers, but stopped short of making maladministration findings against them.

Mr Lander said: “I have made findings of maladministration against five individuals and the public authority responsible for the facility. Those findings do not however tell the entire story of responsibility for what went wrong.

“Senior people, including ministers and chief executives, who were responsible by virtue of their office for the delivery of care and services to the consumers at the Oakden facility, should have known what was going on but did not. I found this astonishing.”

Mr Lander said the evidence he received had revealed a regime where serious complaints about care were not appropriately addressed, where there was a culture of secrecy and where opportunities for intervention were missed.

He warned that because Oakden had been closed before it could be fully investigated, similar failures could occur at other facilities.

The recommendations included:

  • The Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) review the clinical governance and management of mental health services.
  • All staff at facilities in a local hospital network (LHN) undergo ongoing training as directed by the DHA.
  • More frequent unannounced visits to facilities to evaluate patient care, staff capabilities and the physical state of the buildings.
  • A review determine the duties and responsibilities of Consumer Advisors and whether further training is required.
  • A review of the level and nature of allied health staff support at facilities with  mental health services.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill said the Government accepted responsibility for the failings and was working to fix the aged care sector.

“To anybody who suffered abuse at the hands of workers at Oakden, I am deeply sorry," he said on Wednesday.

"To their family members, to their carers, to their loved ones, I am deeply sorry.



    To make a comment, please register or login

    1st Mar 2018
    If a government facility can do this, think what the for-profit ones are doing...
    1st Mar 2018
    That is a ridiculous comment, Knows-a-lot! It comes down to the culture of the staff - nothing to do with public/private ownership!
    1st Mar 2018
    It is and always has been the culture of the Jay Weather all led govt.It has a proven track record off this type of attitude in their departments where they are responsible for vulnerable persons whether they are old ,mentally challenge,children in care .The lists goes on .
    1st Mar 2018
    Spot on Big Al. What K-a-l; you, me or anybody else for that matter thinks is neither here nor there. That society presently suffers enough from slur, innuendo and unsubstantiated claims or accusations at the hands - or more correctly fingers - of bloggers on this and other sites is the stuff of legend, not. The fact that so much of this occurs might well stem from the use of pseudonym(s). One wonders whether we'd witness quite as much drivel were lap-top larrikins/keyboard cranks required to identify themselves.
    1st Mar 2018
    Tj that’s a very silly thing to say. Oakeden was there long before the current SA government came to power. Making silly political points won’t stop this happening again. Federal and State health departments and senior staff from nursing and medicine have questions to answer and they are being asked to account for their actions or more precisely non-actions. Because of what happened the Commonwealth auditing systems have significantly changed and these required State input. There will be improved and increased audits for all these institutions. Agencies will no longer be warned months in advance that the auditors are coming. This alone will make a huge difference to the quality of all aged care services. The auditors will have to talk to the relatives and when possible the residents and will no longer make their assessments by reading folders of guff and having lunch with the Directors. There will be improved channels for relatives and staff to lodge complaints. The Oakedens in this country will find it harder to hide abuse. BTW these new standards apply across the country and for both private and state owned facilities.
    1st Mar 2018
    My late husband enjoyed excellent care in a Council-run facility for 18 months. It is indeed the culture of the organization and management and staff, not whether it is private, government, not-for-profit or for-profit.
    Ted Wards
    1st Mar 2018
    Unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aged care in general and other facilities across Australia. If you search on social media sites you'll find some very sad stories of other elderly people who have died from neglect. They are also starting to come out on television programs and in aged care industry magazines themselves.

    Many in the industry were kind of hoping that the move to aged care to complete commonwealth control may bring in tighter regulations but alas that has not been the result. As we saw yesterday the Aged Care Accreditation Agency has now been axed due in part to this issue. When I was working in residential care facilities in Adelaide before I left for Brisbane I worked on one in Unley which was appalling and eventually closed down.
    Although the whole system was supposed to have an overhaul under the Living Longer Living Better program started by the Gillard Gov was supposed to address the gaps. But then you see a huge gap in older people and mental health. There are no mental health specific service for people over 65. They are seen as not having mental health issues, rather issues due to ageing. We all know this is rubbish with many having diagnosed mental health issues well before they are 65.
    The trouble is there is still a fragmented approach when it comes to older people and mental health and I am sure if there was a thorough investigation of the whole system, this story is the tip of the iceberg!
    1st Mar 2018
    MD Said: What 'K-a-l', U, me. or anybody else for this matter Thinks. is neither here nor there. IT is "HERE -&, THERE", MD. posted ABT the 1,962-late 70's sydney PSYCHIATRIST Killer at
    his PVTE CHELMSFORD HOSP, aft He UP-graded from 6 Beds into "ChelmsF", with Help of NSW always CORRUPT, always UseLess GOVT &, It became, COMPLICIT, in 1, -"D R" Harry BaileY, over Drugging, in-nocent arriving, DEEP SleeP, Clients so he could Methodically kill 24, ovr the time. Are you affected by, Such a SYDNEY Story, involvg, a * *ROTTEN N.S.W GOVT - which HelpeD, the "LICENCED" " D R " as, * *They ALL Are.. ALL, of, "Them".
    1st Mar 2018
    I POST, "MD", B E C, i am 75 & soo,n will B ? Very vulnerable TO the SCUM, which AUS did NOT have so much to Fear 50 YRs ago. BUT, immigration &, SLOPPY, U N- Caring "N I T-W I T S",- in ALL GOV-TS, cause, an I N-nocent POPUla - 2 B, very Fear-ful.. U will Face it, 1 day. I am a VICTIM of havg been BULLIED Out OF, gain-ful EMPLOY, By WRONG, GOV-T EmploYed, SCUM & - still Fighting 'SCUMFUL GOV-T', for MY, - FULL & PROPER, OverDue V Large, Compensation.
    2nd Mar 2018
    Thankyou KEVINJ for raising similar issues to subject matter, it's apparent from your input that you've been kicking this can along for quite some time. My point re individual's "think"(ing), was by way of reply to an earlier comment.
    I can recall the Chelmsford issue and accept your line of reasoning to link that to the present crisis. My point - "what anyone thinks" obviously prompted your reply and as I cannot foresee how or what folk might link this (or any) comment to an issue they feel strongly about is an unknown. Please accept a brief explanation.
    "What anyone thinks" itself is simply a thought process and regardless of subject will amount to little by way of addressing any wrong unless the thought process prompts a corresponding
    corrective action. We can think and blog all we like about society's ills or injustices but in the absence of corrective actions then little is likely to result. I wish you well in your ongoing endeavours.

    2nd Mar 2018
    People are put in these places when families have had enough trying to look after them. It is awful that people are left to die in such a way. If they were animals they would be out down out of kindness so why can't humans be treated the same. It must be awful when one is so dependant upon others just waiting to die. I have already planned my exit for this mortal world and even have DNR tattoo on my chest so their is no looking for paperwork.
    8th Mar 2018
    I find it incredible that the government did not know as concerns were raised. The last health minister did not even visit the facility. Jack Snelling suddenly resigned. State Labour has failed the vulnerable in our community therefore I will not vote for them.Well said tjPuglet just because Oakden was around before Labor does not mean that the government is absolved from caring for th vulnerable ; they have a legal and moral responsibility to check on the welfare of people in state insitutions.

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