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Kalimna Hostel should not be sold

Liberal Shadow Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, says that the Weatherill Government’s misleading use of the facts to try to shift the blame for the closure of Kalimna Hostel onto the Federal Government fuels concern that it plans to sell off the site.

The release of reports by the CFS and a building surveyor make clear that the key issues with Kalimna relate to the mobility of the residents and whether the Weatherill Government is willing to invest in the Hostel’s upgrade.

There is nothing in the 2014 reports that supports the Weatherill Government’s claim that “the decision to close Kalimna was taken following changes to Commonwealth Government requirements that removed the distinction between low and high complexity care”[1].

Indeed the most startling aspect of the reports is that they do not mention Commonwealth aged care accreditation.

"It is clear that the Weatherill Government has not been transparent. There is genuine & reasonable concern that the Government's real agenda is to sell Kalimna," said Mr Wade.

“The Weatherill Government needs to release all relevant information so the community can be part of a full and open discussion about aged care in the Strathalbyn region, including the future of the Hostel. There is a growing level of need for aged care services in the Strath area.”

It may be that Kalimna could continue to operate as “accommodation for the aged” if the resident population were able to walk (Building Code, Class 3). The funding implications would need to be clarified.

The CFS and building surveyor reports shows that Kalimna has for some time been assessed for fire purposes against a building code classification for people who do not need assistance with evacuation.

The CFS noted that many residents would not be able to evacuate the building unaided and queried whether the facility’s fire assessments were being conducted under the appropriate building code classification.

The 2014 CFS report includes the following comment:

“It was noted that the capability of residents to self-evacuate appears to be a problem within the hostel. At the time of the inspection it appeared that many of the residents were not ambulant and would require assistance to evacuate”.

The CFS report suggests that SA Health had two options, either:

Redevelop - to meet the Building Code standards for people who need help to evacuate (class 9a or 9c) - “a significant fire safety upgrade would be required”[2]; or

“occupy with persons consistent with a class 3 type building i.e. independent persons requiring no additional care” [3].

I understand that the upgrades required to comply with class 3 would cost about $265,000.

I have received the following advice from the office of the Commonwealth Minister:

  • The 2014 changes removing the distinction between ‘high care’ and ‘low care’ classification streamlined a care recipient’s access to appropriate levels of care. This change did not alter the requirements under the accreditation standards or the process for accrediting aged care homes.
  • Regulation and enforcement of fire safety standards and the building code are state and territory responsibilities.
  • Following an assessment contact visit at Kalimna Hostel on 20 December 2016, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (the Quality Agency) determined that the home did not meet expected outcome 4.6 (Fire, security and other emergencies) of the Accreditation Standards.
  • The assessment contact visit was a routine visit as part of the Quality Agency’s planned visit schedule.

In fact, Kalimna was audited against the Commonwealth aged care standards on the eve of the removal of the distinction and was given a three year accreditation to 23 August 2017.

The reports also raise serious questions about what action SA Health took since the report was received – especially when eight matters should have been rectified within 90 days.

[1] FAQ – released around 3 March 2017

[2] Page 9, CFS Report, 17 October 2014

[3] Page 3, CFS Report, 17 October 2014