Earle Haven Retirement Village – what is the story?

You have most probably seen the TV news reports on the crisis shutdown of the Earle Haven Retirement Village, with approximately 70 residents ‘abandoned by the operator’.

The important facts are these.

Earle Haven Retirement Village is a co-located property, meaning it is a big retirement village (approximately 500 homes) and a separate aged care home with approximately 70 residents.

It is located at Nerang, 12 km inland from Surfers Paradise.

The same name is used for both the village and the aged care home – Earle Haven Retirement Village.

Even the government website my aged care calls the aged care home the Earle Haven Retirement Village.

Both the village and the aged care home are owned by a company called People Care, which is owned by Arthur Miller. People Care is the operator of the retirement village.

Approximately 18 months ago People Care outsourced the operations of the aged care home to a company called Help Street.

Last Thursday at 2 PM one of the staff of the aged care home rang ‘000’ to say that Help Street had (allegedly) abandoned the 70 residents and most of the staff had walked out of the building.

Police and ambulances arrived to find the residents unattended and that the aged care home had been stripped of equipment, medicines, essential products like incontinence pads, food and more.

It took paramedics and doctors from Queensland health until 2 AM Friday morning to relocate all 70 residents at other aged care homes and hospitals.

The most damning element was the alleged removal of resident’s records – meaning the new carers did not know medications, medical histories or doctors.

And this is where the details become murky.

Nobody has yet identified clearly in the media who made the decision to abandon the residents and who stripped the home.

People Care state that they had given notice to Help Street that their contract was terminated, effective next month (August).

Help Street state that they had not been paid by People Care.

Everybody is being very careful in what they say because of the definite legal actions that are going to flow thick and fast, including lawsuits.

Importantly for us in the retirement village sector, there are implications.

The first is that across the country for at least 48 hours the media was reporting that residents of a retirement village were abandoned. Most have now been modified their wording to say the Earle Haven Nursing Home.

The second implication was that the actual retirement village was in financial difficulty, with stories that a resident had paid over $300,000 to enter in the 48 hours beforehand; this was ‘lost’.

It later came out this was a RAD payment to join the aged care home – not to enter the retirement village.

The third implication is perhaps the most serious. This is a story about two operators arguing over money, with no apparent regard for the residents under their care.

At a time when regulators are considering various arguments on whether residents of retirement villages are fairly treated financially – best demonstrated by buybacks – this story does not present well.

It attacks ‘trust’ in retirement villages and operators.

We can be assured that the story won’t go away either, as the truth slowly unfolds.

And now this event is being pushed to the Royal commission into Aged Care, with the possibility that retirement villages will be added to the scope of the Royal Commission – something the sector was pleased to have avoided.

On Tuesday, five days after the event, People Care held a meeting of village residents and their families, reassuring them that the village and their homes was financially secure.

By our next edition of The Village Manager we should know a lot more. Hope this article helps.

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