A Queensland woman has welcomed news of a royal commission into Australian aged care services after alleging her husband was neglected at a Rockhampton facility earlier this year.
Janice Keys’s husband Peter has severe Alzheimer’s and needs full-time care.
She sent him to Bethany Nursing Home in Rockhampton in April, thinking he was going to receive the best possible care.
But she said after two days she found him alone and distressed when she visited.
“I would arrive and Peter would be sitting there crying,” Ms Keys said.
She said her concerns grew the following week when he was acting out of character.
“He would be agitated and saying ‘Get me the F out of here, I don’t want to be here anymore’. Now that’s not Peter, Peter is the gentleman.”
Ms Keys said after a few weeks, she noticed her husband was often left without a shower or assistance to eat.
She took it up with staff and said she was told, “Oh, we didn’t shower Peter today … we don’t have enough nurses … It’s up to the patient or the client to ask for assistance”.
“This asking came up a number of times. Now how can Peter as an Alzheimer’s person ask? He can’t,” Ms Keys said.
“You’ve got to actually prompt him in everything that he does. He can’t tell you if he wants to go to the toilet.”
Mr Keys stayed at Bethany for about four weeks before Ms Keys took him home to care for him herself.
She said it had been heartbreaking to see him being left to fend for himself.
“It just makes me angry, it makes me sad … Peter’s a human being. He needs some dignity, some respect.”
Grandmother found with ‘ants in her pants’
Ms Keys is one of many Australians who have seen someone they love fall through the cracks of the system.
She said she had witnessed others at Bethany Nursing Home being neglected.
“I noticed others being left to fend for themselves when they couldn’t eat properly,” she said.
“One lady’s grandma, who is still in this place, they went to visit her and she had ants in her pants.
“The response from the staff was ‘We’ve got an ant problem’.”
The ABC has confirmed with the family that this incident happened.
The family wishes to remain anonymous because the woman still lives in the facility.
Bethany Aged Care did not respond to direct questions about these cases.
In a statement, the facility said it was required to meet high accreditation standards through the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, and that the home recently passed all 44 standards.
‘We need more nurses’
The issue of neglect in aged care is reflective of a nationwide problem where many facilities are severely understaffed.
There is currently no staff-to-patient ratio for aged care providers to legally abide by, and they work under a voluntary code of conduct.
The Australian Nurses and Midwifery Federation said this needed to change.
“Such standards exist in childcare but they don’t exist in aged care and for us that’s just outrageous,” Queensland Nurses and Midwifery Union secretary Beth Mohle said.
“It’s absolutely fundamental to the provision of safe, quality nursing to elderly Australians, and we need to see that addressed immediately.”
Figures from the Australian Nurses and Midwifery Federation show aged care residents need a minimum of four hours and 18 minutes of care per day.
That is one-and-a-half hours more than they are getting.
Ms Mohle said it was important for the community to remember the aged care “horror stories” were the result of failures in the system.
“It is not the staff in aged care’s fault that this is occurring,” she said.
“They’re doing as well as they can in extremely difficult circumstances. The point is that the system is failing residents, their family, and the staff that care for them.”
Royal commission to address concerns
These issues will come under intense scrutiny after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the royal commission into Australian aged care services.
Mr Morrison said incidences of older people being hurt by failures of care could not be excused, and he was determined to find out how widespread the problems were.
Labor has welcomed the move.
If you have a story you would like to share with the ABC about Aged Care, please email [email protected].
For more information on how the ABC is covering Aged Care, you can subscribe to our newsletter here.
- Nhulunbuy still waiting for 'desperately needed' aged care facility
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison reveals terms of reference for aged care royal commission
- Aged care royal commission starting today a 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity' to speak up
- Grannies and Pops program helps kids and aged care residents form deep, educational bonds
- TONI KING: Is a memory care facility covered by Medicare?
- I tried to track down all the friends I grew up with in care – here’s what I found
- Husband, 83, charged with murdering his wife, 79, on Christmas Day faces court
- Ask Amy: Single parent worries about child’s gift imbalance
- Harmful protein build-up predicts brain tissue damage in Alzheimer's disease with 40% accuracy, study finds
- Ageism is one thing, feeling old is another: Naseeruddin Shah writes on the subtle art of ageing
- 'Boys would defile her': Rapper T.I. defends taking his daughter, 18, for virginity tests and says he was just protecting her
- Video surfaces of elderly man crawling in pain after being refused MRI scan at Adelaide hospital
Man with Alzheimer's was expected to ask to be showered in aged care facility, wife says have 1106 words, post on www.abc.net.au at September 18, 2018. This is cached page on VietNam Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.