Columbia holds meetings with families after sanction shock

MEETINGS have been held with residents and their families after Oberon's Columbia Aged Care facility received a notice of sanction from the Department of Health.

Columbia, however, says the problems that led to the notice of sanction "directly related to staffing issues" and the company has reiterated its commitment to Oberon and the facility itself.

The Federal Government's My Aged Care website said the Department of Health had identified that there was "an immediate and severe risk to the safety, health or well-being of care recipients at the [Columbia Aged Care] Service following information received from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission".


My Aged Care said the Department of Health had identified "critical deficiencies" in relation to personal care and clinical care.

Failures that had led to the sanctions covered services for daily living and feedback and complaints, among other standards.

The sanctions imposed on Columbia mean the Oberon facility is not eligible to receive Commonwealth subsidies for any new care recipients for six months.

Columbia must also appoint, at its own expense, an adviser to assist with complying with responsibilities in relation to care and services; an administrator to assist with complying with responsibilities in relation to governance and business operations; and provide training for its officers, employees and agents and demonstrate that it has provided this training.

Columbia Aged Care chief executive officer Tiffany Boys said Columbia received a notice of sanction from the Department of Health as a result of an audit undertaken between October 15 and 22, 2019.

"The audit was based on the New Aged Care Quality Standards introduced by the government on July 1, 2019," Ms Boys said in a statement.

"The areas identified in the audit directly related to staffing issues experienced by Oberon village, like many other rural and regional providers and acknowledged in the recent Royal Commission hearings held in Mudgee.

"To date we have held several face to face meetings with residents, family and friends at the facility to discuss the issues and the program going forward, and will continue to do so. At a recent meeting, attended by representatives from the Department of Health, the director acknowledged that Columbia was a 'quality provider of aged care'.

"Mr Peter Miller, chairman of Columbia Aged Care, was pleased at the high level of participation and grateful for the level of support and went on to thank all those present for the round of applause received during the meeting as acknowledgement of the work undertaken by staff at Oberon village.

"Mr Miller reiterated Columbia's commitment to the town of Oberon and the facility itself."

The sanctions will stay in place until May 1, 2020.