Residential Aged Care Communiqué Volume 10 Issue 3 August 2015
Download PDF: RAC Communique August 2015
In this edition
Call the fire brigade
Fire safety expert commentary
Premature deaths in RACS
Welcome to the third issue for 2015. In this issue we focus on a single tragic event that most readers will already be familiar with concerning arson in a Residential Aged Care Service. The event received national media attention when a nurse in the RACS deliberately set fire to RACS.
There are many issues this event presents that assists us to be better prepared for improving care for residents and staff. If you read the details of the Coroner’s finding, a 75-page document, you will see aspects relevant to all who are involved in aged care. A significant feature of the Coroner’s finding was a personal description of each individual victim of the fire. This helps to bring a greater sense of the people and the loss felt by family and friends.
The Coroner highlighted an aspect of each person’s life achievements and family relationships, noting each had experienced real hardship in their lives. Many of the victims had grown up in the Depression and Second World War, migrating from all around the world to Australia. This compassionate approach is important and should always be recognized when using this event to improve care.
We should not dismiss this as a tragic ‘one-off’ event due to the criminal behaviour of one person. Instead, we should examine the issues it raises around preparedness and management of fire safety in the RACS; recognition and assistance of impaired health professionals; credentialing and scrutiny of an employee’s qualifications and credentials.
Don Garlick, an experienced and skilled Fire Safety & Disaster Coordinator provides our expert commentary. Don is a recipient of the Country Fire Authority 25 Year Long Service Award and an Australian Federal Government award, the National Emergency Medal, for service rendered during the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires.
We also include a short summary of a recent research study into injury-related deaths of residents reported to the Coroners Court.
It would be remiss not to mention the trauma to the family and staff involved in this event. There is little information in the public domain about the personal aftermath experienced by each of them.