CEO takes leave amid claims of bullying and workplace intimidation

Business is also said to be 'non-compliant with numerous safety standards'

CEO takes leave amid claims of bullying and workplace intimidation

An employer that reportedly broke several safety standards confirmed that it was recruiting an interim CEO amid allegations of bullying and intimidation of staff and residents against the chief executive, according to ABC News. 

Warrnambool’s Lyndoch Living, an aged care facility, confirmed on 10 August that it was recruiting an interim CEO after the current chief executive, Doreen Power, took leave following the allegations. 

Accusations against the current CEO

According to ABC News, a week before Lyndoch Living’s confirmation of its CEO recruitment, MP Roma Britnell used her parliamentary privilege to accuse Power of behaving with “subterfuge and arrogance.”

It further reported that during a legislative assembly, Britnell said that the aged care provider’s board should remove Power because she fears residents’ well-being is at risk. 

“The aged care provider has had more than 200 staff leave over the past couple of years amid claims of bullying and intimidation from the upper management that’s created a toxic workplace,” Britnell said. “I believe Ms. Powell is the source of many of these problems, especially the toxic workplace environment.”

ABC News reported that since 2015, there had been rising community unrest amidst Power’s tenure. 

The news outlet further said that recently, the public formed a community action group called “Keep Lyndoch Living” and gathered over 700 members.

Based on its Facebook site, the page was created to “give people in the Warrnambool region a space where they can safely discuss the future prosperity of our primary community-based aged care facility, Lyndoch Living.”

According to group member Jim Burke, the situation only worsened, and the group wanted the federal government to remove the board and chief executive and appoint an administrator, ABC News reported. 

“They need to sort out a more representative board that is accountable to the community,” Burke said. “At the moment they elect themselves.”

Moreover, the news outlet said that over 100 local applications for membership from community members were denied in 2021 with no further explanation. 

ABC News reported that it had contacted Power for comment regarding the issue, and in the meantime, Julie Bertram, the current director of innovation and organizational development, would be in charge of the executive team until an interim CEO was hired.  

“We assure the Lyndoch and broader communities that our priority is the care and safety of our residents and staff, as we face continued challenges caused by workforce shortages in our region,” Lyndoch Living board president Susan Cassidy said. 

“We thank each and every one of our staff members for their dedicated service,” she added. 

Failure of numerous safety standards

Besides the alleged bullying of its CEO, ABC News also reported that Lyndoch Living had failed various safety standards in three consecutive aged care commission audits. 

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission told ABC News that an unannounced audit in April 2022 at Lyndoch’s hostel and nursing home revealed the former was non-compliant in seven areas and the latter in five areas. 

The news outlet said that areas of non-compliance involved falls, choking, and unexplained weight loss. 

Moreover, ABC News reported that from 19 to 22 July, the commission commenced a second unannounced site visit to Lyndoch’s May Noonan Centre and is currently compiling a report.

 “If we assess at any point that consumers are being placed at immediate and severe risk of harm, we will not hesitate to act urgently and without delay to protect consumers,” a spokesman for the commission told ABC News. 

Minister for Disability, Ageing, and Carers Colin Brooks also told the news outlet that he had already written to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission concerning the issue of Lyndoch Living. 

“I am aware of the community’s concerns regarding Lyndoch and have written to the commission to ask for their continued support in working with Lyndoch,” Brooks said. 

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