Safety audits to come in aged care

SAFETY IN CARE: Safety audits will be rolled out in aged care facilities across South Australia soon. Picture: FILE.

Melanie Riley

AUDITS will soon be conducted in residential aged care facilities across South Australia, in a bid to reduce the risk of injury to residents and staff.

With manual handling of people continuing to be a significant issue in the aged care industry, inspectors from SafeWork SA will start compliance checks in private and state-run residential aged care facilities throughout metropolitan and regional SA.

From 2019 to 2023, ReturnToWork SA received an average of 733 claims per year within residential care services, in particular aged care residential services.

Resthaven Mount Gambier manager Belle Kerr said they were committed to keeping everyone safe and free from harm.

“Resthaven is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for the staff, volunteers, visitors, clients and residents of Resthaven Mount Gambier,” she said.

“Their safety is our utmost priority. It is important to us as we are aware we owe a duty of care to our site community.

“We keep them safe by ensuring that Resthaven Mount Gambier allows appropriate equipment and safety mechanisms to assist staff with their tasks.”

Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector Kyam Maher said the checks were an important move to ensure the safety of aged care facility staff and residents.

“Residential aged care workers play a vital role in our community and it’s important to protect them from injury,”

“Workers need the right skills, processes and equipment to move residents safely.

“The campaign will also help protect aged care facility residents who are particularly vulnerable.”

There will be a focus on equipment and other techniques used by staff to move residents with limited mobility from one location to another.

This could include transferring residents from a bed to a chair or bath, from a wheelchair to a toilet, or repositioning them in their bed.

Education, operational guides and checklists will be provided by SafeWork SA inspectors, to ensure staff follow correct procedures.

In an instance an aged care facility is deemed non-compliant, an inspector will attempt to remedy the issue on-site, and if it can’t be addressed at the time, a compliance notice may be issued.

Equipment commonly used to move residents in aged care facilities include ceiling hoists, patient lifters, stretchers, wheelchairs and slide sheets.

The campaign will be long term, and will look at appropriate training of staff, accessible and adequately maintained equipment and facilities adequately controlling risks associated with hazardous manual tasks.