Brackenridge faults stressed

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2013

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An extraordinary government investigation into Brackenridge Estate has highlighted a raft of failings at the Christchurch disability facility and will result in a shake-up of its operations.

The key findings of the audit include a detachment between management and staff working at the coalface, poor communication, issues with the reporting of complaints and incidents, and a desensitisation to the risks surrounding residents.

See the full audit report here.

The Ministry of Health audit criticised the facility for unsuitably mixing residents, its management of medication, health and safety and repairs and maintenance, and the knowledge of its casual or temporary staff.

The ministry ordered Brackenridge to produce an action plan to address the problems.

A preliminary summary of the audit, prepared by Brackenridge, was given to staff and families yesterday, but the full report will be published on its website today.

The investigation into Brackenridge was commissioned in September, after the facility's sole GP, Dr Peter Wilkinson, quit over two deaths and fears about the safety of staff and residents.

Wilkinson said the key findings reiterated "what I saw as the major issues" at the facility.

"I would hope the outcome from this is serious change in the environment so the residents' needs are better met."

Wilkinson hoped the potential safety issues, which led to his public resignation, would be corrected, but it would take a "large shake-up of the service provision if they mean to address those".

Brackenridge chairwoman Jane Cartwright said: "There are lessons for all in the report and work to be done. Overall, while the audit shoots from the hip, we welcome its findings because they can only help us do things better.

"The key for us now is that we focus on the plan to build on what we do well, and put right the things we don't - our clients deserve nothing less."

Cartwright said it was important to acknowledge the positive points recognised in the audit, including the "passion, expertise and commitment of our staff".

Brackenridge began to work on its issues after the release of the preliminary findings of the audit and Cartwright said several initiatives were already under way, including team leaders being introduced, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers being installed in every home and electronic systems replacing old paper-based records.

Future improvements to the facility will include medication audits for each home, a review of the assault and restraint policy, regular staff team meetings and an annual staff wellbeing survey.

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Canterbury District Health Board acting chief executive Mary Gordon pledged support to Brackenridge while it resolved its issues.

In October, The Press published a special investigation into Brackenridge which reported families, staff and authorities raising concerns over the mistreatment of residents, the wrongful administration of medication, broken promises and ongoing management failings.

The four main concerns that emerged from the investigation (safety and protection of staff, lack of medical history pertaining to residents, young and inexperienced caregivers, conditions of the residents' homes) were all alluded to in the audit's key findings.

- The Press

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