There is a new manager in charge of the Bupa aged care facility in Eden, one who isn’t dodging the home’s history while looking to restore confidence and lift care standards.
Annette Guilfoyle hit the ground in May, the months before had been filled with concern for residents in the 85 bed home, with Bupa Eden, sanctioned by the Federal Government’s industry watchdog, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
Only “14 of 44 expected outcomes of the Accreditation Standards,” we met the commission’s report said.
Among the concerns raised were, pain management, palliative care, nutrition and hydration, skincare, continence management, privacy and dignity, leisure interests and activities, cultural and spiritual life.
The facilities accreditation was revoked and Bupa was banned from admitting any further residents beyond the current 46.
The news rocked the community with fears the service would close, leaving Eden and surrounds without a local care option and putting people out of work.
In August this year, the service was re-accredited for a further six months until February 2020, however, the cap on new residents remains.
“It’s important to acknowledge the past,” Ms Guilfoyle says.
“Things haven’t gone well, there have been issues here, I don’t want to just forget about it.
“We are rightly under the microscope of the Commission and the Department and we still have some things to address.”
New standards came into play across the industry on July 1, Ms Guilfoyle says Bupa Eden is on track to meeting them and being able to take new residents again early next year.
In trying to explain what went wrong the new General Manager says, “it’s hard for me to know because I wasn’t here, but we took our eye off the ball.”
“To me, there is a real opportunity to do the right thing.”
Born in England, Ms Guilfoyle comes to her new job from Sydney with a background in Bupa Dental and has settled in Merimbula with her retired husband, her cat and new dog Coco who comes to work every day.
“I want to be part of making the aged care sector in Australia better, its a small role I am playing focused here on Eden but it gives me great satisfaction to put hand on heart and say – I am working to make things better.”
Bupa Eden is undergoing somewhat of a makeover, with empty rooms at the 10-year-old facility currently being refurbished. Automated doors have also been installed to help people get outside into garden areas, new kitchen equipment and air conditioning has also been installed, along with the appointment of additional senior staff.
“We have employed an Assistant General Manager who is a very experienced nurse to support me in the clinical side of things,” Ms Guilfoyle says.
“And as part of being a ‘sanctioned home,’ we have to employ a Nurse Administrator and a Nurse Advisor who are external advisors, who work here full time for a period and also support me in getting things right.”
Ms Guilfoyle says she has great confidence in the staff who remain, “it’s a difficult job and you are dealing with some challenging personalities and situations everyday.”
“And nobody works in aged care for the money – you come into this because you have a passion for caring and for people.
“Staff felt the nasty comments and bad press. They put so much into their work so it was devastating for them.”
Based on the most recent audit in July/August there are still nine areas Bupa Eden needs to address.
Three of those relate to the lack of a GP service at the home, “and that’s not just us, its a regional crisis for Australia, and we are really trying our best to secure a new GP for the home – that’s my main focus at the moment,” Ms Guilfoyle says.
Improved documentation and better incident response procedures are other areas of improvement.
The next audit by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is due before the end of the year, Ms Guilfoyle says the process Bupa Eden is going through is a sign of the system working and should give people confidence.
“Being open and upfront is natural for me, I can’t tell you something that I don’t feel in my heart.”
This Sunday (October 13) Ms Guilfoyle is inviting the community to come and see the home for themselves.
“It’s a free event for the local community to say thank you for supporting our residents and staff through a difficult time,” she says.
“We will have the local classic car club here with about 12 vehicles, a coffee van, sausage sizzle and all types of entertainment including singing, dancing and we are hoping to have a jumping castle and face painter for the kids.”
The event runs from 12 pm to 4pm at Bupa Eden on Barclay Street.