RESIDENT CONCERNS: The emergency nurse call system has been offline for over a month at the McAuley Place Residential Aged Care Facility.
RESIDENT CONCERNS: The emergency nurse call system has been offline for over a month at the McAuley Place Residential Aged Care Facility. Contributed

Alarm bells not ringing at a Rocky aged care facility

A MONTH after an aged care facility's emergency alert system was knocked out, a family member has spoken out, concerned it still wasn't back online.

A power surge from a lightning strike during a severe storm which hit Rockhampton on December 22 was believed to have "fried" the Nurse Call System at Rockhampton's 30 bed McAuley Place Residential Aged Care Facility.

A family member who didn't wish to be named contacted The Morning Bulletin to express their concern saying it had been 35 days since the system which allows elderly and infirm residents to summon help when in distress, went down.

"This is leaving these elderly residents unable to summon immediate emergency help, without resorting to telephoning the reception at McAuley Place's landline, it they can physically reach or even be visually capable of dialling their phone," the family member said.

"Since then staff have had to make half hourly room checks on the residents, 24/7, to check they have not fallen, had strokes or heart attacks etc.

"(It's) putting undue strain on staff and unfairly disturbing residents sleep, creating anxiety in fragile elderly residents, possibly increasing risks of stroke and heart attack brought on by unnecessary duress."

While they acknowledged the staff were doing their best given the circumstances, the family member questioned the competency company responsible for the damaged system, saying even sourcing parts from the other side of the world shouldn't have taken this long.

Mercy Aged Care Services Executive Officer Lesley Schneider expressed sincere and heartfelt apologies to any residents, family members and staff adversely affected by the breakdown of the Nurse Call System.

Within 12 hours of the surge, Ms Schneider she said a supplier had flown to Rockhampton from Brisbane, to examine the purpose built low voltage system which was very sensitive, with in-built protections.

"It was the low voltage side of the system that was completely fried, it cannot be protected for uncontrolled surges caused by lighting," Ms Schneider said.

"Manufactures of reliable nurse call systems closed for the Christmas break and didn't return to work until January 15.

"This system is manufactured in Brisbane and it is due to be completed by January 30."

She said the manufacturer completely understood the urgency and they would work hard to get the system back up "as soon is humanly possible" which was expected to be by February 2.

In the meantime, the facility will continue to operate as they have done since the incident with residents using handbells and an extra staff member checking on the residents every half an hour.