Community & Business

6 October, 2023

Mareeba’s aged care home makes massive turnaround

Though she gives full credit to her Mareeba staff for this reversal, it also coincides with the 12 months Diane Lignier has been on board as the Residential Services Manager.

By Gail Sedorkin

HEALTHY CHOICES: Cooks Jay Oli and Fiona Hamilton with Residential Services Manager, Diane Lignier with some of the menu choices now available.
HEALTHY CHOICES: Cooks Jay Oli and Fiona Hamilton with Residential Services Manager, Diane Lignier with some of the menu choices now available.

Diane celebrates her work anniversary at BlueCare Mareeba this Friday and said she wouldn’t have been able to turn things around without the commitment of the staff.

“I’m very happy for Mareeba to do as well as they did, and happy for this home and all the improvements we have made for residents.

“We have an awesome team here. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without them,” Diane said.

“Mareeba deserves a quality first-class facility. We have had our ups and downs over the years, but it’s important that there is somewhere close by for loved ones – a quality choice at their doorstep.”

Just months after Diane started at Mareeba, the Federal Government introduced a new star rating system in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, with BlueCare Mareeba Aged Care Facility scoring just two stars, indicating “improvement needed”. 

This star rating followed on the heels of the damning July 2022 report where the Facility failed all eight Aged Care Standards required by the Federal Government’s Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC). 

“I could see the challenges ahead but I was really up for those challenges," Diane said.

In the August assessment this year, BlueCare Mareeba doubled their star rating for Staffing with a score of four stars (a ‘good’ quality of care), while increasing from two stars to three stars across Quality Measures, Compliance and Residents’ Experience. 

The Staffing rating looks at the amount of care being provided in an aged care home, based on the total minutes of nursing and personal care given to each resident each day, and the care from a registered nurse to each resident each day.

The July 2022 Aged Care Commission’s Performance Report had described Mareeba’s staffing levels and associated issues as “not up to scratch, meaning residents do not get the level of care they require”.

In a statement following the July 2022 Report, BlueCare said it was taking the matter seriously. 

“We regret these findings and sincerely apologise to residents and their families that their home did not meet the quality standards. We aim to provide the care and environment our residents and their families rightly expect and deserve. BlueCare recognises the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and sector-wide workforce shortages. Informed by the ACQSC’s audit findings and our own internal review, we have acted swiftly and comprehensively to improve the standard of care at Mareeba.”

A major part of this "swift and comprehensive action" was to bring Diane on board, with her extensive experience as a psychiatric nurse, educator and most recently Nurse Unit Manager at Townsville University Hospital.

“BlueCare saw the value of my experience. I was so excited to take on this new role,” Diane said.

“Our staffing is now stable from movements and we have filled all the roles.”

BlueCare Mareeba Aged Care Facility currently has 68 staff members and 51 residents, with six rooms currently under maintenance including in the Memory Support Unit.

Since starting on 6 October 2022, Diane has attended all staff and resident meetings, where, she said, “staff, residents and family are encouraged to feedback back to us all the time”. 

She has also implemented a new Diet and Nutrition System including extensive on-site training for the online ordering system, a new medication system and the addition of a solar system for the facility. 

“Since I started one year ago I have been listening to our staff and residents about improvements and listening to people’s stories,” Diane said.

“Approachable management, a lot of education and face-to-face meetings are all key to ensuring I get this feedback”.

Diane is transparent about the failed 2022 audit, changes made since then, and future plans.

“I take tours personally for family and loved ones and I always start a discussion about what happened last year.

“I bring it up as people are hesitant to ask about it, and they usually say ‘we were wondering about that’.

“I want to reassure them and let them know what we have done since then. I want family to know that it is a place where loved ones are happy and well cared for”.

In June this year auditors interviewed 35 of the 68 staff members and 30 of the 51 residents for the 2023 ACQSC Report.

With close to a clean slate, BlueCare Mareeba Aged Care Facility is now compliant across Quality Standards 1-7, with non-compliance for Standard 8 Organisational Governance in two of the five requirements.

The two requirements from the Commission’s July 2023 Performance Report were that “the organisation must have effective organisation wide governance systems ... and effective risk management systems and practices”.

Positive findings from the Commission regarding Standard 8 include noting “evidence of where consumer feedback has been used to improve services, for example, via changes to the service’s menu”.

Due to the favourable report and evidence of continuing improvements, BlueCare Mareeba Aged Care Facility will not be audited again until 2026.

“We haven’t finished the work yet. We plan to go above and beyond with quality improvements,” Diane said.


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