Oakden scandal went on too long: inquiry

Authorities took too long to respond to the mistreatment of elderly dementia patients at an Adelaide nursing home, a Senate inquiry says.

Authorities were aware of issues as far back as 2008, and in an interim report, the inquiry said it was "deeply concerned" warning signs such as unexplained bruising, medication mismanagement and falls were not investigated promptly once they were raised.

"Many subsequent instances of abuse and neglect occurred as a direct result of those with the oversight responsibility not acting earlier," the report said.

The inquiry found that poor or inappropriate training, a culture of fear and cover-ups were key factors in allowing the mistreatment to continue.

"What is of deep concern to the committee is the length of time it took for the SA government and Australian government to respond to the concerns."

Seniors advocacy group COTA Australia said the report highlighted the need for more stringent accreditation practices and support for whistleblowers at nursing homes.

"It's absolutely unacceptable that the catastrophic failures at Oakden would never have come to light without the persistence of the Oakden families in drawing attention to the situation," chief executive, Ian Yates said.

The nursing home in Adelaide's northeast was closed in 2017 by the state government after a report by the state's chief psychiatrist exposed failures in clinical governance, incidents of rough handling of patients, excessive use of restraints and a high level of injuries.

The Senate inquiry is one of several investigations into the home, with the SA Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander investigating if any maladministration was involved in the running of the facility.

His report will be released on February 28, just weeks before the state election.

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