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  • Writer's pictureThe Communiqués

Residential Aged Care Communiqué Volume 13 Issue 4 November 2018

In this edition


Chronology of Oakden

Case: Oakden revisited

Final call: “Dignity of Risk”

Editor’s Comments

Inquiries: An explanation

List of Resources


Welcome to the final issue for 2018. We present the findings of the Coroner’s Inquest into a resident death at an aged care facility in Oakden, South Australia, that occurred in 2008. The finding was delivered in September this year, more than 10 years after the death of the resident.

Most readers are familiar with some aspect of the deficits in care at Oakden, which have been the subject of multiple investigations over the past few years leading to the closure of the facility. The recent announcement of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will almost certainly consider what happened at Oakden once again.

In this issue, we will summarise the key aspects of the case, to help our readers gain a clear chronology of what happened and the implications for staff, aged care organisations, and the sector as a whole. A unique aspect in our presentation of the case in this issue, is that I provided an expert opinion to the South Australian Coroners Court during the inquest.

This issue also explores why there are multiple inquiries and why it is not really possible to avoid this situation. Common sense would dictate that one comprehensive and objective investigation would be enough to identify the underlying contributing causes for the failures at Oakden. But that is not how change or reforms in our community service, regulatory and justice system necessarily works. Hopefully our explanation of the need for multi-faceted investigations will be reassuring though unlikely to reduce the frustration for those seeking expeditious outcomes.

The following inquiries relevant to Oakden are publicly available. At a national level, there has been the Australian Law Reform Commission into Elder Abuse (2017); the Carnell-Paterson report commissioned by Federal Aged Care Minister; the Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry; the Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport inquiry. From South Australia, there has been a report by the Chief Psychiatrist (2017); the Independent Commissioner against Corruption (2018); and a coronial inquest into the death of a resident (2018). The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is underway and the Commission is due to report their initial findings late next year.

On a final note, we are about to close our call for expressions of interest to screen the film ‘Dignity of Risk’ which is ideally suited to address one of the new aged care quality standards. “Consumer dignity and choice” is a key focus for the standards (Standard 1) which come into effect on 1 July 2019. The requirement for each RACS is to be able to demonstrate “each consumer is supported to take risks to enable them to live the best life they can.”


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