Scabies outbreak investigated

INFECTION: Peter Strawbridge's wife Heather had to be admitted to hospital due to the severity of her scabies infection. Photo: Supplied

INFECTION: Peter Strawbridge's wife Heather had to be admitted to hospital due to the severity of her scabies infection. Photo: Supplied

A federal investigation has been launched into the outbreak of scabies at Kindred Living's Annie Lockwood Court aged home in Whyalla.

Investigators from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission visited the site last month, identifying possible issues with care and services within the facility.

Eight patients are alleged to have contracted the infection in an incident publicised on national television, but the operator of the facility suggested the total affected was fewer.

The commission arrived unannounced and is preparing a report to be published soon.

In a letter to Care Watch Australia's director Stewart Johnston, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said the commission had been in contact with consumers and their representatives to discuss complaints raised.

"In addition to engaging with consumer representatives to obtain their views on care and services, the commission has sought information from the provider ... and is reviewing relevant clinical records among other documents," the letter said.

"If the commission identifies that an approved provider is not meeting its responsibilities, then it can take compliance action which may include sanctions."

Kindred Living chief executive officer Juanita Walker said the investigators were on site for one day last week.

She said the home would continue to monitor for any further signs of scabies as they waited for the report.

"There has been no other diagnosis of scabies in the 51-bed facility, but management and staff will continue to monitor for any further signs of scabies and take any necessary action required," she said.

"Once the assessment report is received from the commission, Kindred Living will introduce any further changes or improvements recommended by the commission."

Ms Walker said Cottage 3, where the outbreak was centred, had a deep clean in line with SA Health recommendations after the treatment of a person with scabies.

She said bathrooms, bedrooms and other living areas had been progressively upgraded in the past year "and will continue as part of the homes continuous refurbishment plan".

SA Best politician Frank Pangallo has campaigned for action to be taken against the home and said while he welcomed the investigation, he felt it should have taken place earlier.

"I welcome it and welcome the fact they moved quickly to try to address the concerns," he said.

"However, this should have happened months ago as it has been going for some time."

Mr Pangallo also put questions to Health Minister Stephen Wade last month in parliament relating to the facility.

VISIT: SA Best's Frank Pangallo being interviewed at Kindred Living as part of the A Current Affair story. Photo: Supplied

VISIT: SA Best's Frank Pangallo being interviewed at Kindred Living as part of the A Current Affair story. Photo: Supplied

He referred to Mr Colbeck's statement that the commission had investigated a total of 11 complaints at the facility.

In his question, Mr Pangallo asked whether there had been discussions between state and federal officials relating to the matter.

In response, Mr Wade said he shared concerns about a troubling report surrounding the facility that aired on national television.

"Both Mr Colbeck and I are committed to ensuring these allegations are urgently and thoroughly investigated and that appropriate action is taken," Mr Wade said.

"The health, safety and wellbeing of senior Australians is extremely important. We will direct all appropriate and necessary resources to assist."

Mr Wade said while the federal government was responsible for the oversight of aged care services, the state "has always acted swiftly to protect vulnerable members of our community".

"That is why in the wake of the Oakden disgrace, we passed legislation to safeguard the rights of adults vulnerable to abuse and neglect and to establish the Adult Safeguarding Unit," he said.

Mr Wade said the unit had been in contact with the commission to discuss steps to take and that SA Health was willing to help.

He said conversations with Mr Colbeck had highlighted "the determination of the commonwealth to ensure that appropriate standards are being delivered at Kindred Living".