Quick trial push in COVID aged care case

·2-min read

Aged care residents left in soiled clothing or who missed out on meals during coronavirus outbreaks could become part of two class actions against care facilities.

Sebastian Agnello and Effie Fotiadis are leading actions against Melbourne's Epping Gardens and St Basil's aged care facilities after the deaths of their respective mother and father during last year's second wave outbreaks.

Carmella Agnello was a resident of Epping Gardens while Dimitrios Fotiadis was under the care of St Basil's when they contracted and died from the virus in late July.

Two separate class actions were filed in Victoria's Supreme Court last year, alleging their preventable deaths had caused depression, anxiety and nervous shock to their children, stemming from mismanagement and failures of home operators to meet their duties of care to residents.

In a joint hearing of the cases on Wednesday, lawyer Andrew Broadfoot spoke of the urgency in bringing the cases to trial.

"Our clients are frail and elderly people and many are going to be dying between now and the trial if we don't get the trial on sooner or later," he said.

Those eligible to join the action include not only relatives of residents who contracted or died from coronavirus, but residents and families of residents whose care was affected by the pandemic.

Documents shown in court allege staff at St Basils were permitted to come and go without wearing personal protective equipment and that residents were not prevented from wandering through the halls of the facility and into the rooms of residents who had tested positive to COVID-19.

It's also alleged some residents were left in soiled clothing for long periods and that others were not given adequate or sufficient food.

One resident said they were given meatballs too tough for them to chew, but when they requested something softer were told "take it or leave it".

Justice John Dixon described the criteria for members of the class action as confusing.

He said while a "legally trained brain" might be able to sort through the complicated documents to determine who was eligible to join the case, it shouldn't take a senior barrister to figure it out.

The case is due back in court next week.