A leaked "cultural review" of Lyndoch Living staff from 2020 reveals numerous allegations of harassment and staff mismanagement, including allegations of a "culture of intimidation, manipulation and bullying".
The survey was the first of three undertaken at Lyndoch since January 2020, a period in which the organisation is estimated to have lost more than 200 staff, including its director of nursing and four nurse unit managers, some of whom had 25 to 30 years experience.
The Standard reported on the survey at the time, but did not detail the complaints. In the past week former Lyndoch staff have approached this masthead to say the issues raised in the survey had not been addressed.
Lyndoch Living has come under recent pressure following the release of Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission audits that showed record non-compliance for its nursing home and hostel services.
Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell said on July 13 she was "not confident" Lyndoch's board could address growing transparency and workplace culture concerns in the wake of the audits. The board said Ms Britnell had spoken to the media without checking her facts or giving the board a chance to respond.
Days later, on July 17, the Keep Lyndoch Living community group launched a petition calling for the Lyndoch Living board to be dismissed, claiming it "has lost the confidence of the community it serves".
Then on July 18, this masthead published an account by Deb Buckle, the daughter of a Lyndoch resident, which raised questions about patient care and the adequacy of staffing levels in the nursing home's Audrey Prider Centre.
Former Lyndoch residential services operations manager Cath Porter told The Standard the patient care and staffing issues were directly related to the workplace culture first documented in the 2020 staff survey.
"Losing that volume of experienced staff has had a direct impact on the quality of care," she said. "The director of nursing had over 25 years of experience there. The manager I worked with had nearly 30 years of experience."
Ms Porter worked at Lyndoch for more than 10 years and was second in charge to the director of nursing. She said she ultimately resigned in November 2021 because the "bullying" and "poor workplace culture" had become "untenable", and the staff survey had not led to change.
"Nothing happened after that first survey," Ms Porter said. "None of those issues changed. If anything it got worse."
"My story is not unique, it's not isolated. There are many others who share a similar experience and everyone's just too frightened to say anything."
IN OTHER NEWS:
The leaked survey was undertaken by workplace consultants Working Together in December 2019 after continued social media criticism of Lyndoch. In it, staff were asked whether there were "issues or concerns relating to bullying and harassment, gossip, inappropriate comment, poor behaviour between colleagues or poor behaviour with clients".
The survey found "numerous employees commented on the negative feedback that was on Facebook as being an accurate representation of issues regarding bullying and harassment".
"Comments were made in regard to people who were beneficial to the organisation being 'pushed out' due to the mismanagement of bullying behaviour they had either witnessed or endured," the survey said.
It also said some employees "stated that there was a culture where individuals who reported bullying were ostracised and created a 'target' on their back with upper management".
"Numerous respondents stated that the bullying occurred from older employees and that the younger employees tended to be the targets of gossiping, bullying and intimidating behaviour," it said.
The authors of the survey report noted the feedback "focused only on the negative aspects about their working culture".
"A small sample of around 10-15 respondents stated that the ... culture of intimidation, manipulation and bullying greatly impacted their safety, health and wellbeing," the survey said.
In March 2020, Lyndoch chief executive officer Doreen Power said Lyndoch could "always do better" and she would "take on board" criticism levelled at her personally. "I have to look at myself. What can I do?" she told The Standard at the time.
Both Lyndoch Living and Ms Power were asked last Friday about whether any action had been taken in response to the allegations and whether the staff exodus was connected to the claimed cultural problems, but they did not respond.
Ms Porter, who was acting director of nursing when the survey report was delivered to Lyndoch, said the approach internally was to "bury" it.
She said the lingering cultural concerns led to several staff sending an anonymous letter to the Lyndoch board in April 2020.
"The letter was delivered by a local GP... who was concerned about the staff and residents," Ms Porter said.
The letter reiterated the "grave concern" of some staff about a "significant deterioration of staff morale" and "poor and highly detrimental decision making" at Lyndoch. The authors of the letter offered to "meet confidentially" with the board to discuss the matter further, but didn't receive a response.
A source with direct knowledge of discussions told The Standard the Lyndoch board dismissed the letter.
Ms Porter said since that point at least 200 staff had left, including four unit managers and the long time director of nursing, who resigned effective July 1 this year after a long period of leave. Ms Porter also said when she resigned she had sent her exit interview to the board along with a letter reiterating allegations and concerns about bullying and mismanagement.
"There is a poor culture there, the board are aware of it and they're doing nothing about it. They're choosing not to address it and I don't know why," she said.
The Standard asked the Lyndoch Living board whether the anonymous letter had been dismissed and whether any action had been taken to address the staff departures and allegations of bullying and intimidation, but did not receive a response.
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