I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse a question about the Oakden Nursing Home.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On Tuesday 12 February, in reply to a question on notice in this place, the minister advised that a nurse adviser had been appointed to oversee the Oakden Nursing Home as part of the compliance requirements of the commonwealth government. Is the minister aware that two nurse advisers and a lifestyle coordinator, appointed after sanctions were imposed, resigned because of interference from CNAHS executives?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Environment and Conservation, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Minister Assisting the Minister for Health) (14:30): Often in this chamber the honourable member is misguided. Let us be really clear about this position and commonwealth requirements around the position. The commonwealth required, under the sanctions—
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: —the appointment of a full-time nurse adviser. That was its requirement under the current sanctions. Given the limited availability of nurse advisers on the commonwealth approved panel due to the Christmas/new year season, two individuals were nominated and endorsed by the commonwealth to fulfil the requirement of one FTE nurse adviser, and a contract was being negotiated with those two individuals. The nurse advisers initially engaged by CNAHS withdrew their services on 16 January 2008, and the day-to-day operation of the home, and the coordinating and prioritising activities of the two individuals had become problematic, without compromising the impact on staff and patients. Discussions were held with the nurse advisers about continuing in their role. Discussions were also held with the commonwealth about the situation. So, it was involved. Following these discussions, it was agreed that it would be more beneficial to have one full-time nurse adviser to fill that position that we were required to have in place.
CNAHS nominated an alternative full-time nurse adviser on Monday 4 February. The commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing has endorsed the appointment of that one full-time position and supported the appointment of a single full-time nurse adviser, given the nature of the work that was required to be undertaken—and I have outlined here in the chamber the significant commitment to quite a comprehensive action plan to address those areas that were identified as being deficient. The staff have been prepared to pick up the challenge. They had been working very hard, and they continue to work very hard. A full-time Director of Nursing with extensive experience in aged care has also been appointed to work alongside staff in the home and support the activities to be undertaken by the nurse adviser.
The commonwealth supported this appointment, given the experience of the Director of Nursing in bringing other complex services to quality care and also compliance with all standards. The newly appointed nurse adviser is also well known to the commonwealth and the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency, both of which felt that her approach and her experience would be invaluable to the home in achieving its work towards compliance. The nurse adviser and the new Director of Nursing have met with staff and have begun to action a number of new strategies. A number of things have already been put in place, and a number of risks have already been mitigated. As I outlined in my answer to the question the other day, we have complied with the requirements of the commonwealth at all levels, including our responsibility around the placement of a nurse adviser position, and I have outlined the replacement of two individuals who were filling the one position with a single position, and that position and that person have been endorsed and supported by the commonwealth.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:34): Sir, I have a supplementary question. Does the minister concede that the new management team had to be found at short notice because of the sheer number of resignations from senior positions at Oakden?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Environment and Conservation, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Minister Assisting the Minister for Health): The challenges before the staff at Makk and McLeay are quite significant, and I have outlined those previously. So, they are on record. The staff have worked extremely hard in putting together a comprehensive action plan to mitigate risks and to ensure that we fill all the standard obligations with the commonwealth. A great deal of work has already been done and we continue with that work. I have made it clear that as part of that we have made significant changes to our management team and other staff. I believe that that has, in effect, assisted us in working towards compliance with the commonwealth and providing excellent nursing care to the patients who use that facility.