Public statement - Warning about Dental Services to Aged Care Facilities provided by Elderlink Consolidated Services

25 November 2013

The Commission has completed an investigation into Elderlink Consolidated Services and under section 41(2)(b) and section 94A(1) of the Health Care Complaints Act has decided to make the following comments and public warning.

Comments

Elderlink Consolidated Services  (also known as Elderlink, ECS or ECNSW) is a private organisation which provided dental services to residents at a number of residential Aged Care Facilities in Sydney between 1 July 2011 and 30 November 2011. Elderlink Consolidated Services utilised the available dental benefits under the Medicare and Department of Veterans Affairs dental schemes for the eligible residents.

According to the Aged Care Facilities, there was a shortage in access to dental services for residents at Nursing Homes and Aged Care Facilities.

In the provision of dental services by Elderlink Consolidated Services, 66 residents of the four Aged Care Facilities received dental treatment at their first dental consultation in the form of filing down their teeth in preparation for crowns and/or bridgework, in contravention of agreed protocols in place between Elderlink Consolidated Services and the Aged Care Facilities:

  • without informed consent
  • without consultation with the resident’s next of kin or authorised representative; and
  • without the knowledge of facility management staff.

49 residents who received this invasive and irreversible dental treatment were deemed incapable of providing informed consent by their General Practitioners, due to their dementia or other cognitive impairments.

At least three of the residents who were capable of providing consent, have stated that their teeth were filed down without notice or explanation, and without their informed consent.

The dentist contracted by Elderlink Consolidated Services undertook dental treatment on residents that was clearly in breach of the Elderlink Consolidated Services agreements with the facilities, and the requirements of Medicare and Department of Veterans Affairs.

The on-site representative of Elderlink Consolidated Services, failed to take any action on complaints to him to ensure Elderlink Consolidated Services acted in accordance with its agreements with the Aged Care Facilities.

Warning

The Commission urges caution and diligence be exercised when dealing with Elderlink Consolidated Services in its provision of Dental Services to Aged Care Facilities.

Further Information

For further information, contact the Health Care Complaints Commission on 9219 7444 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au.