Upper Hunter Community rallies around embattled Gummun Place aged care hostel

COMMUNITY SPEAKS: Families and residents have jumped to the defence of Gummun Place.
COMMUNITY SPEAKS: Families and residents have jumped to the defence of Gummun Place.

THE findings of a recent audit surfaced last Thursday, detailing a series of failures to meet expected outcomes at Merriwa's Gummun Place Hostel.

However, despite criticisms from the Aged Care and Quality Safety Commission, the public has rallied around the facility and praised the treatment of their residents.

Although 19 of 44 procedural issues were deemed to be insufficient in the audit, which occurred over the 19th and 20th of June, consumer satisfaction was extremely high. In fact across the ten questions residents were asked, which ranged from queries about the food to their healthcare needs, not once did they record a negative or even neutral answer.

Out of the 12 people interviewed, every respondent said they always felt safe and stated the staff either treated them with respect all the time or most of the time.

Upper Hunter Shire Council (UHSC), who is responsible for the facility, said they had received a number of positive messages and letters following the news. One such example of this is from Judy Riley, daughter of Gummun Place's Margaret Witney, who had this to say about the home.

"Margaret's family has always found the facility to be very professionally run, with caring and welcoming staff," she said.

"The activities offered are varied and many, helping with not only keeping residents occupied, but also with their cognitive skills. "The staff go beyond what should be expected of them making a comfortable, safe and happy environment for all residents, and a home where we all feel a little happier and confident when we have to leave mum after a visit."

Despite the high level of satisfaction, their accreditation could yet be taken away if they fail to improve their practices and procedures by their next audit on October 28. However, UHSC director of environmental and community services, Matthew Pringle, said the consequences are likely to be much less severe.

"There is the possibility of sanctions being imposed," he said. "They could range from appointing an administrator for the facility or not being able to take new residents for the facility."

There is a high level of confidence this will not be the case though, with council providing additional resources to help Gummun Place meet the expected standards.

When asked whether he was shocked by the public's strong loyalty towards the residence, Mr Pringle gave a very clear response. "The community has always shown support for the hostel, it's a small community at Merriwa and the hostel provides an important service...so I wan't surprised," he said.