Reason to complain

Letter, The Age

John Simpson (Opinion, 2/10) spoke on behalf of all citizens deeply concerned about the quality of residential aged care services. Bipartisan reforms introduced in 2013 decreased regulation and pushed consumer choice. But the “consumers” are often frail, elderly people, many with dementia. How can they negotiate fees and demand a high quality service?

It is no surprise that the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner’s first annual report shows an 11 per cent increase in complaints. Relatives complain because residents’ needs are unmet – when incontinence pads are not changed regularly, when bruises appear or skin tears, and when pressure sores are not treated appropriately, in some cases turning gangrenous. Complaints are also made when residents suffer from malnutrition and/or dehydration and are chemically restrained. The list goes on.

The industry cannot keep dismissing such complaints as a one-off problem. Incidents occur in aged care homes because providers employ too few staff.

When taxpayers are subsidising the care of elderly people, the public’s investment needs to be protected in the form of regulation, mandated staff ratios and a rigorous accreditation system. The care of vulnerable older people is too important to be left to the free market.

Sarah Russell, Northcote

1 thought on “Reason to complain”

  1. Seasons Aged Care advertised as “Living independently in your own home “unit” with all services provided.

    Today I took my 92 year old Aunt to visit her 96 year old sister who has dementia and lives at Seasons, Kallangur in Brisbane. We arrived to find my Aunt in extreme pain in one of her toes. Once we removed her shoes and sockettes ….OMG – one toe was badly infected and all her toes had a fungal disease and goodness knows how long it had been since her nails were cut. Firstly, I went searching for a RN or carer and had no luck so then pushed her emergency button on her wrist as she is a Level 4 “high care”. After half an hour no one arrived so I phone an after hours doctor service. The doctor prescribed strong antibiotics for the toe and stressed the importance of monitoring her closely for the next 24 hours as it was a serious infection and any change in terms of fever or vomiting she needed to be in hospital. Anti-fungal treatment for her toes before seeing a podiatrist. Still, no sign of staff to attend to the emergency call. Finally, once her son arrived and went to the pharmacy to purchase the required medications we found an AIN who told us that no RN’s are employed on the weekends; they are just “on call”. The carers are not permitted to give any medications so my cousin gave his mother the first antibiotic and we ensured that notes were made for Monday, plus my cousin would have to drive back in the evening to give his mother the next tablet. There are 107 self contained units at this facility – no RN’s on the weekends and 2 carers which means that important medications are not administered to residents on these days. When leaving we walked through the spacious and well designed dining room to find only one resident who was looking for a staff member. It appeared that the majority of residents are high Care and rely on a carer to bring meals to the residents. The maths do not add up it would be quite improbable for so few carers to mange such a high number of residents albeit so many “high care”. Once again, we see the disaster of “for profit” organisations ‘not’ running aged care facilities in accordance with regulations. And yes, they would employ more staff on accreditation inspection times. When we left after 3 hours I came across a carer and mentioned my Aunt having a doctor visit and that still no one had answered her emergency buzzer – their reaction “oh, we better check the system as nothing was recorded”. Why the need to lie so blatantly? We saw the emergency buzzer light up and a.somake a noise.

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