Research Page

Collection of my Opinion Pieces on aged care 2012-2022

Over the past decade, I have undertaken several research projects on both residential and home aged care.

I have also written 75 opinion pieces, published in The Age, The Guardian, Herald Sun and Michael West. I have also appeared on ABC TV  7.30, Afternoon Briefings Channel 9’s The Today Show and Channel 10’s The Project.

This document contains a collection of my Opinion Pieces, Letters and research articles.

Having a bet each way in Flinders

Local councillor puts her hand up to be the ‘Voices Independent’ but then decides to go solo. Dr Sarah Russell discusses the ethics of Cr O’Connor’s tilt for Flinders.

My eyes popped out of my head when I saw the headline: “Former mayor running as an independent in Flinders“.
Although Cr O’Connor is entitled to run as an independent, she also applied to be the Voices of Mornington Peninsula’s candidate for Flinders. The announcement of her running as an independent occurred when the Voices’ process of endorsing our candidate for Flinders was still in progress.
Does having a bet each way pass the pub test?
Cr O’Connor joined Voices of the Mornington Peninsula (VMP) earlier this year. VMP is a grassroots community organisation. Members have spent the past 8 months hosting kitchen table conversations with residents to explore what federal issues matter to locals.
I met Cr O’Connor when I facilitated a zoom kitchen table conversation. Cr O’Connor was one of the participants. I was very impressed with her. Afterwards, I initiated a private conversation in which I encouraged her to apply to be the Voices’ candidate for Flinders.
Cr O’Connor told me that she had applied. However, she asked members of the Board to keep her application confidential. She did not want people to know she had applied if she was unsuccessful.
Cr O’Connor’s request for confidentiality put a spanner in the works. The original plan was to have a community town hall meeting in which all members of Voices could meet the candidates and vote on their preferred candidate. It was simply not possible to have a town hall meeting and keep Cr O’Connor’s identity confidential.
I admire the 4 members of the Voices’ Board for their ability to “pivot”. They responded to Cr O’Connor’s request for confidentiality while also ensuring the selection process included community members. They designed a process that included professional and community panels. It is the most rigorous process I have witnessed during my 40 years of political engagement.
Cr O’Connor later complained about the absence of ‘community’ in the selection process. I reminded her that she had asked for the process to be confidential. I asked Cr O’Connor: “How could you possibly have remained anonymous in a community town hall meeting?”
Last week, Cr O’Connor told me her application to be the Voices’ candidate for Flinders had been unsuccessful. She asked if I knew the name of the successful candidate. I did not. Cr O’Connor told me that she felt sure she knew who she was, despite the cone of silence.
Cr O’Connor told me she had a ‘plan’. This ‘plan’ was to stand as an ‘independent’ independent (i.e. not a Voices’ independent) for Flinders. She planned to launch the following week – before Voices announced our candidate.
I asked Cr O’Connor whether it was ethical to make her announcement when she was still a member of VMP and when the internal process to endorse the Voices’ candidate (which she was an applicant) was not yet completed.
I texted a board member with my views about Cr O’Connor’s plan. I was confident that I could encourage Cr O’Connor to re-consider her decision. Packing up her bat and ball and going solo so soon after hearing she was unsuccessful seemed to me to be a ‘knee jerk reaction’. I told her she should consider at least waiting until she found out who is the endorsed candidate.
With a commitment to transparency, I sent Cr O’Connor a copy of the text I sent to the board member in which I stated:
Despi is hurt and disappointed. She is also very smart. I believe she will recognise that it is not in her interest to stand as an independent – those in the voices community who were on the panels may perceive it as an act of vengeance. This will ruin her political future – and this would be such a waste of a good person with so much to give the community. So I am sure Despi will realise that it is in her best interest politically to support the Voices candidate. Our aim is to get an independent into federal parliament – and we all need to work together to do that. Splitting the vote is in no ones’ interest. If the Voices candidate you have chosen is as stellar as you say, Despi will learn a lot from her/him. This will put Despi in a good position to run as Voices candidate for Victorian election next year. However, having said all that – Of course, Despi is entitled to make her own decision. I just hope she makes a decision that supports her political future, not ruins it.”
Later that day, I had a long conversation with Cr O’Connor.
I began with an ethical argument that the candidate selection process should run its course, given she is a part of this process (i.e. one of the 3 applicants).
This didn’t work.
I then suggested that the ‘optics’ would be that she was having a ‘dummy spit’ because she was not the successful candidate. No one likes a sore loser.
I reminded Cr O’Connor that she had been a local councillor for only one year. Surely she recognised that she had things to learn before jumping into federal politics. I also said that many people on the Peninsula don’t take any notice of local council or local councillors. “Her community” may in fact be a small proportion of voters.
I asked Cr O’Connor to consider waiting until she knew the name of the successful candidate. I suggested it would enhance her reputation if she supported the successful candidate (i.e. the person Voices of the Mornington Peninsula had endorsed). I also suggested she could learn from this person.
I pointed out that the other unsuccessful candidate had demonstrated maturity, humility and grace by undertaking to support the successful candidate, whoever she/he is. This candidate chose to respect the process.
Finally, I felt sure that many people in the electorate would perceive her action as selfish, driven by her own ego – and this would ruin her political future. I told her this was regrettable given she has much to give the local community on the Mornington Peninsula.
None of my arguments persuaded Cr O’Connor to change her mind. She believed “her community” wanted her to stand.  However, if “her community” – and their desire to have an independent instead of a Liberal as our MP – genuinely motivated Cr O’Connor, she would not consider splitting the vote and funding. It is only by being united and working together that we can achieve our goal of an independent MP for Flinders.
Cr O’Connor stuck to her plan. She launched  her campaign several days before Voices endorsed our candidate. Cr O’Connor’s  timing was intended for maximum political impact. However, the lack of follow up media suggests the article in The Age quickly became fish and chip paper.
It is quite extraordinary that Cr O’Connor launched her campaign while still a member of VMP. I sent her a text to suggest she should resign from VMP. To be fair, her failure to resign may have been a simple oversight. But it was remarkable that I needed to remind her that it was not appropriate to remain a member of Voices at the same time as announcing that she is forming “Team Despi” to contest the election.
I then looked at Cr O’Connor’s website, including her self-promoting video. How did she have such a slick website ready to go in such a short time? Had she made this ‘back up plan’ before putting her hand up to be the Voices’ candidate? Had she made a bet each way?
If her plan had always been to stand as an independent for Flinders irrespective of the outcome of the Voices’ process, Cr O’Connor wasted Voices’ time, resources etc. While I consider this unethical, others may consider it ‘politics’.
I expressed my disappointment about Cr O’Connor going solo via a tweet. My tweet was re-tweeted by James Massola, an Age journalist. James agreed that Despi’s action was a gift for the Liberals.
Rather than contest the claims in my tweet, Cr O’Connor chose to hide my tweet on her twitter feed. This is ironic given she claims to be “doing politics differently”.
I later tweeted: (1) Voices had clearly chosen the best candidate (evidenced by Despi’s behaviour to ‘spit the dummy’) (2) Despi did not have the integrity to be the Voices candidate (a line I had plagiarised from another member of Voices).
These tweets prompted another independent Councillor to send me a Direct Message. Rather than engage in a robust debate about the issues I had raised, she described my criticisms of Despi’s actions as “dirty”. Gobsmacking stuff.

Unlike our esteemed Prime Minister, I do not normally share private messages. However, the Councillor has asked me to share her message.

How dare I question Cr O’Connor integrity so publicly? Does she think it is OK to publicly question the integrity of members of the current federal government but not Cr O’Connor? Constituents have every right to question a politician’s integrity, loyalty and trustworthiness.
When a politician’s integrity is questioned publicly, politicians have the right to respond to this criticism. It is simply inadequate to say: “I will stand on my integrity” as Cr O’Connor did earlier this year when her integrity as Mayor was questioned publicly.
It is also worth noting that during last year’s council elections, Cr O’Connor was one of the preferred candidates for the Committee of Mornington Peninsula.  One of the Committee of Mornington Peninsula members is Exxon Mobil. How does this fit with seeking funding from Climate 200?
An article in The Australian stated: “In Victoria, Climate 200 is readying to back former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel in Gold-stein, Despi O’Connor in Flinders and a soon-to-be-unveiled candidate in the Treasurer’s seat of Kooyong.” Given Julia Banks (Despi’s alleged muse) is on the Advisory Council of Climate 200, this did not surprise me. I do, however, question whether Julia may have a conflict of interest.
I was later told that the article in the Australian was incorrect though no correction was published. So who knows?
One thing I do know is this: When 3 ambitious Greens’ councillors with pumped up tyres sabotaged Alex Bhathal 2018 Batman (now Cooper) federal election campaign because they were unhappy with the outcome of the preselection process, many locals never trusted these councillors again. Their lack of loyalty also ensured that all the work Alex had done over many years to make Batman a marginal seat was ruined.
I have a sense of déjà vu.

Residents Matter

The following is a blog written by residents who live in aged care homes. All residents are invited to contribute – either via my Aged Care Matters Facebook Group or email. To protect people’s privacy, contributors will be given a pseudonym. The aged care home will not be named.

***********

Rose

Jan 16

Last night, residents were woken at midnight, by staff in full PPE, told we have a positive COVID case, needed to undergo immediate testing, people were frightened, crying, not understanding what was happening..l
Surely this could have been handled better..

 

Jan 23

We are still confined to our rooms. A motley crew of gardeners, maintenance crew, all hands on deck, keeping us fed + watered..
Young gardener who brought my breakfast says he’s quite enjoying the change, and it will continue for a few weeks yet..bless him..
Meanwhile, the usually immaculate gardens are starting run amok, hedge outside my window growing at an alarming rate..
I usually wave to the same young gardener out of my window while he’s trimming the hedges, and I’m eating breakfast..
Nurses are run off their feet, taking care of essentials..
We had a six-day RAT on Friday, thankfully not at midnight this time..
Happy to report, status quo is being maintained, more or less.
24 Jan
Expecting another uneventful day in solitary confinement. A friend and I escorted to cafe, on premises, for coffee. Enjoyed doing crossword in SMH, sporting news. I read to vision impaired friend, then Director of Nursing came to tell us of death of another resident’s husband. His death was not unexpected but still sobering. I was permitted to individually visit friend to share commiserations..
Other residents still confined to their rooms, hopefully, restrictions will be gradually eased.
Good to see return of nurses who’ve been away, presumably on sick leave.
Happy to report that Greg from Maintenance, and Guy from Gardening, are still happily filling multiple roles.
Settling down to read, discovered Anne Perry, enjoying her WilliamMonk detective series, set in Victorian era London, amazing to discover Anne Perry’s own history, on Wikipedia.
We’re looking on the bright side, staff doing their best, going above and beyond, life will gradually return to normal..
Will be good to see family + friends again..
25 Jan
Still in solitary confinement.  Nurse Sarah brought medication, apologised for being late, she’s filling in for RN who is off sick, told Sarah no worries, Sarah says she’s so tired, has to keep going, for all those who need her..
Sarah is one of the good ones, very conscientious, feeling so sad for her.
My recently acquired Gogo, sadly not going anywhere at present, due to lockdown, solitary confinement.
Received advice that we are now at day 9 of our outbreak (dated yesterday).
Isolation and no visitors rule continue.
RATs to be completed on Thursday and Friday. Depending on results, residents will be permitted to move around freely, with COVID safe practices.
Visiting will hopefully resume, subject to safeguards, on 1st February, once Public Health Unit declares outbreak is over at our facility.
We are allowed out of our rooms for short periods. Hazel and I enjoyed a coffee in the cafe this morning. We read SMH and did the crossword. The physiotherapist will supervise walks outside this afternoon, weather permitting.
I really feel management is doing everything possible for our well-being, under difficult circumstances.
So far, so good.
Jan 26
Hazel and I enjoyed coffee + crossword in the cafe again this morning..
Pleased to see physio taking individual residents outside to the patio, which has sweeping views across the fields to the blue hills beyond..enjoying fresh air and a chat..I’m hoping for a quick trip outdoors this afternoon
We were given Australia Day quiz questions to complete, plus Aboriginal Australia quiz, we did both those, but didn’t bother with War Song Quiz, felt it was irrelevant to Australia Day, being songs of British origin..
Still in iso, so far, so good.
Happy to report that Hazel + I won a prize in the Australia Day Quiz.. will share with our friend Frances, who’s just lost her husband..
Didn’t get outside this afternoon, but you can’t have everything, there’s always tomorrow.
Jan 27
We had our RATs this morning.  Mine is still negative, thankfully.  We still have active cases, though not sure how many. Hopefully we will still be on course to come out of lockdown on Feb 1st.
Still in solitary confinement. Nipped outdoors to a nearby courtyard just now, as the door stood invitingly open. I removed my mask for a few gulps of fresh air.
One of the housekeeping staff just popped by to say she’d heard my interview with Sally Sara [on ABC World Today]. She thought it was good. She’s told management, so the cat’s out of the bag now. My next post may be from Siberia.
Enjoyed coffee in the cafe with Hazel as usual this morning. We did the SMH crossword – appreciating a little respite.
The staff seem less stressed as time goes on. I am very grateful for all they do for us. Greg from Maintenance is still everywhere at once, filling in wherever needed.
We are fortunate not to have experienced a serious outbreak, as other facilities have. This is probably because of our semi rural situation.
28 Jan
While solitary confinement continues, feeling concerned for my neighbour G, who has dementia. G was coping well – she enjoyed a regular routine, breakfast at 7.30, lunch at noon, supper at 5.00, G attended dining room promptly at meal times, before returning to her room, occupying her time colouring in. Somebody thoughtfully provided a special little sloped table and a huge crate of coloured pencils..
Now dining room is closed, all residents’ meals served in our rooms, the structure has gone from G’s day. She’s remaining in her nightie all day, spending a lot of time in bed, sometimes not even raising the blind, preferring to remain in darkness, door closed.
I’ve noticed staff going to G’s room, concerned, trying to raise her interest, to little avail..
I can appreciate that these measures are considered necessary, for infection control, but may be inflicting untold harm..
29 Jan
Still in solitary confinement, looking forward to light at end of the tunnel, hopefully, next Tuesday.
It will be great to see visitors again, to catch up with friends, to get back to normal.
Happy to report that my neighbour G seems better today. She’s dressed, not colouring in, but looking through her completed works. She has raised her blind.
Guy from gardening popped round to say hello.  He’s been helping out in the kitchen, keeping us all fed and watered.
It’s been terrific and great for morale, seeing how all the staff have co-operated to keep essential services operating.
Greg, maintenance man extraordinaire, is running the laundry, and keeping the wheels turning. It’s great to hear his cheerful greeting, at 7am, on his morning rounds, checking to see what needs doing. He seems to be everywhere at once.
I do realise that many have found lockdown a very difficult experience, families as well as residents. Let’s hope for better days ahead.
Dr R popped in for a quick “social call” last evening. Not a time to mention any major ailments. He perches on the bed. After he’d gone, I realised I’d left a pair of knickers airing on bottom of the bed. Oh well, as Hazel says: “It won’t be the first time he’s seen knickers.”
31 Jan
Our friend Margy has been very ill with COVID. Good to see that she’s been well enough to be taken outdoors for fresh air, yesterday and today.
Frances’ husband has died, aged 91. The funeral is on Wednesday not at our chapel, the crematorium down the road.Frances is coping in isolation, phoned her today for a chat.  She always says “love you” when we’re saying goodbye, bless her. Her boys have been marvellous, she says, organising everything. It must be hard for her.
Hazel and I are still escorted to the cafe every morning, for coffee + crossword. Today the talk was all about Ash Barty and her magnificent win.
We were joined in the cafe by the MMs…socially distanced at separate tables, not seen them for weeks. We hear M2 has been in hospital..
Got Wordle out in three words, only my second attempt.
We’re hoping Donna, hairdresser extraordinaire, she of the magic scissors, will be permitted to return this week. There’ll be a long queue at the salon door. Donna was very ill with COVID after Christmas.
I’m starting to resemble an Olde English sheepdog..
Gogo fully charged, ready for the off….fingers crossed.
Today we’ve progressed from Code Red to Code Amber, whatever that means..
I’ve fired up the Gogo, been able to go outdoors, good to see friends Enjoying some fresh air, some are recovering from COVID, not all wearing masks, so kept a safe distance.
In the cafe, tables of two are playing Bananagram, socialising ..
Good to be able to catch up with friends not seen for weeks..
It seems things might be on the up, fingers crossed.
Australia Behind Bars, documentary in eight episodes starting this week on free to air television, establishes one thing, jail is an unforgiving place..
Food for thought…??
1 Feb
We’re code green today. Life is getting back to normal. Nice to enjoy lunch in the dining room, only two to a table, on china plates, after weeks of paper plates, isolated in our rooms.
Feeling so good after a session with hairdresser Donna, she of the magic scissors..
Hazel had a visit from her grandson, a serving member of the ADF. He’s been trying to get to see her for weeks..oh happy day..
Visited Frances in her room. She walks with difficulty. She will attend her husband’s funeral tomorrow, in a wheel chair. She’s bearing up, bless her.
Hopefully her family will organise a Gogo for her, enabling her to get around more. We’ll be able to stage chariot races.
Margy is hoping to be allowed out of quarantine tomorrow, fingers crossed.
So things are on the up..at the moment, COVID permitting..
Staff had difficulty this morning, persuading G that she could have breakfast In the dining room. By lunchtime and teatime, it’s as if she’s never been away. Back to her colouring-in and regular routine. Sadly her meal-time companion is in quarantine with COVID.  We have no new cases.
2 Feb
Enjoying our freedom again today. In no rush to go out, just stretching our wings. Margy is happy to be out of quarantine, finally..
We have no new cases, so far our outbreak is contained. Thankfully, fingers crossed.
Had my first back massage in three weeks or so. Joanne the RN was one who pitched in during lockdown, assisting anywhere and everywhere as needed. She learnt how to operate something called a tricky lifter, sounds intriguing. I told her that will sound impressive on her CV.
Greg is still manning the fort.  Morale is good.  Staff have done a terrific job
seeing us through this crisis. We’ve been so much more fortunate than many others and we’re grateful..
Got Wordle out in two goes today, I’m on a rolll.
Take care, everyone.xx
Pauline from Housekeeping is a real laugh. She tells dreadful Dad jokes. The cornier the better. Spreading the fun.
Carpets haven’t been vacuumed for the duration of The Dreaded Lurgy.
We’re told it’s because the vacuum cleaner would be spreading germs between rooms. Best excuse for not doing housework we’ve heard.
On a positive note, bathrooms are cleaned daily.
Carpet is a forgiving shade of bottle green, with abstract wattle design, completely swallowing any small items dropped on it, never to be seen again..
I knocked over a paper cup of tea, during iso, mopped up as much as I could.
Today there’s no sign of it luckily.
Before rooms are allocated to new residents, carpet is replaced, if stained.
Management must have an inexhaustible supply.
3 Feb
At 9 am, I noticed Nurse V going into G’s room. G was still in bed, blind closed.
Nurse V gently asked G if she’d like to sit in the chair beside the bed, while she made the bed. G said: “No”.
Next time I looked, G was happily sitting in her chair, fully dressed, blind up, bed made, sheets changed. Nurse V just leaving with armfuls of washing, job done, in no time at all.
Our nurses are our unsung heroes. I thanked Nurse V, for caring. She looked surprised, but pleased.
Our nursing home staff really deserve decent remuneration, as well as our gratitude.
We’re informed by management that our current COVID outbreak will be officially over on 7th February, if we don’t get any new cases.
Tegan from Housekeeping came to vacuum my room. Sadly she was prevented because Bingo was being held in the library, around the corner, players found the noise distracting. Bingo is a very serious business, evidently.
Thankfully, Tegan managed to return later, giving my room a lovely deep clean, before the next session of Bingo commenced.
I was grateful. My room hadn’t been vacuumed since before we went into isolation. It was limited to essential cleaning only.
The spilt tea hasn’t left a stain.
Our Activities Room has become an emergency staff room, the Chapel is a RAT clearing area for all visitors, tradespeople etc as it has a separate entry. So no services or funerals on site for the duration.
I enjoyed a lovely pat with a visiting border collie. Our paths crossed in reception.
Hazel and I didn’t quite finish the crossword this morning. First time ever, in twelve months. I can empathise with the reader who recently complained in a letter to the editor. David Astle is a bastard. My sentiments exactly.
Frances is coping. Her room is a bower of beautiful flowers, and cards. Her boys came to clear out their Dad’s room today. We met for a few words. Such nice people.
Nurse Sarah brought some bromeliads for Margy and I. A lovely surprise. Sarah and her husband have a farm where they grow flowers for export. At Christmas, she brought in Christmas bush for residents.
Best wishes to everyone who is having a tough time at present. I feel we’ve been very fortunate, in comparison to many, and we’re grateful. Well I am, anyway.
G is well today, enjoying her colouring in, being back in dining room for meals.
Margy’s husband is in local Bupa nursing home, COVID outbreak has been bad there, he says they turned off air-conditioning, as it spreads infection.
We’ve not had that problem here..
Hazel and I got crossword done this morning, checked on two problematic answers from yesterday..
B next door, like a little bird, spends her life in recliner chair, never leaving her room, watching television all day, seems happy, always a smile and a wave..
She sleeps folded over, one night fell out of the chair, miraculously uninjured, apart from bad bruising, staff persuaded her to sleep in bed the next night, bed is adjustable to permit sitting up, B said she didn’t like it, back to the chair on following night and ever since..she sleeps with door open, staff would check on her during the night..
Visitors are infrequent, possibly finding the RAT screening onerous..
6 Feb
Our COVID outbreak will be officially over tomorrow, if no new positive cases..will be good for staff to leave off plastic visors, and just wear masks..
We’ll know at 9am..
Feeling hesitant about going out, it’s been so long..
Margy enjoyed a family outing to Trial Bay yesterday, says it was great to get out, she enjoyed the fresh air..
Got Wordle out in four goes, not my best effort, but it hasn’t stumped me, yet..Hazel + I did the crossword, enjoyed coffee in the cafe..
Frances is well, she now has her husband’s chest of drawers, and small fridge, in her room, she’s allocated a parking space for her Gogo, she likes to keep everything shipshape..she woke in the middle of the night, looked around, and thought how nice her room looks, bless her..
Looking forward to getting back to normal..
7 Feb
Found Dr R in the cafe this morning, enjoying a quiet break before beginning his rounds..he came over for a chat, then made Hazel and me a coffee, Hazel very impressed, says you wouldn’t expect a doctor to make coffee..
Failed to solve Wordle today, first time..bah humbug..
H, a centenarian, visiting cafe under her own steam, with walker, tells me a man showered her this morning, it was quite funny when he managed to put her bra on, H enjoyed her coffee, then trotted off to exercise class..
Never a dull moment..
8 Feb
We had a meeting with our Director of Nursing, de-brief on our recent outbreak, Q and A session..
We have approx 160 residents, in two separate wings, outbreak was confined to one wing..
We had nine positive cases, two deaths, both recent admissions, 48 staff furloughed..due to close family contacts, etc..
After being in lockdown, since just after Christmas, and in isolation, for two weeks, I feel we’ve been extremely fortunate, compared to many other facilities..
All staff, whatever their role, were prepared to pitch in to provide essential services, meals, laundry, etc..and personal care.
It was a great team effort..
We’re now getting back to normal, visiting restricted to one visitor per day, subject to RAT screening..this is for our own safety, most residents understand and accept this..
One of the gardeners told me today the hedge outside my window will be getting attention soon..told him it’s all good..
We had our two Pfizer vaccine doses last May, and our booster in November..
10 Feb
Life is getting back to normal, the gardeners got around to our courtyard yesterday morning, hedges trimmed, in no time..a fascinated audience watching on from indoors..order restored in no time.
It was just so good the way everyone pitched in and co-operated during the emergency, regardless of their usual roles, we’re just so grateful..
11  Feb
Guy from the gardening team paused for a quick chat this morning on his way through the cafe, he was carrying a chain-saw, luckily not working indoors today..the auxiliary staff worked twelve-hour days during the emergency..keeping us all fed + watered..
Only two nurses on evening shift for each wing, approx forty residents per team, today..staff call in sick or no-show, at last minute..
Many of us are independent, able to attend dining room for meals, and care for ourselves…fortunately.. but still, nurses will be lucky to snatch time for their
meal breaks..Rob just on her way to her room, 4pm, being put to bed early..before rush hour..she has MS..
Staff still wearing masks, as well as clear plastic visors, must be so hot for them, as well as making conversation frustrating, resulting in hilarious mix-communication..and making their make-up melt..fifteen minutes saved not wearing makeup, compensating for extra time needed for RAT screening before shift..
Hazel and I finished the dreaded Friday David Astle crossword, one word had us stumped, causeris..the clue was informal chat..never heard of it..unlikely to be used in daily conversation..
Barbara, one of our lovely volunteers, was our barista today.
Some afternoon shift nurses stayed on duty to make up shortfall for evening staff numbers..so everyone got fed, washed, ready for bed, all needs met..
Evening shift might miss their rostered breaks, par for the course.
12 Feb
Morning shift hit the ground running at 7am, including those who stayed back to assist evening shift yesterday..champions, every one..
Nurse S came around with her list, asking the inevitable question..told her nobody has checked this for weeks, probably had more pressing matters to attend to..luckily all systems are go..
My stainless steel hip flask, engraved H20..(keeps water cool) attracts comment..mostly sarcastic..sceptics want to give it the sniff test, well, it could be vodka, with any luck..
Greg calls it Holy Water..
It’s another quiet weekend, few visitors apparent, there’ll be none tomorrow, we’re closed on Sundays..a day for quiet contemplation..
Feb 13

 

A very quiet Sunday, no visitors, Nurse Sarah brought in more proteas, think I called them bromeliads before, shows how much I know about flora..
So kind of Sarah and her husband to share with us..they’re beautiful..
Got Wordle out in three goes, compensating for failures..
No crossword today, Hazel + I resting our brains..enjoyed coffee, read the Sunday paper..H likes the sports stories, I’ve learnt about cricket, rugby league, etc, had no idea what I’d been missing, especially the off-field exploits of the latter..
Hazel especially admires our Women’s cricket team, we don’t hear enough about their remarkable achievements..
We’re concerned for Frances, spending too much time in her room, brooding..her boys visit when they can..
Hopefully, she’ll get her Gogo soon, we’ll be able to coax her out more..
She walks with difficulty, manages to get to the dining room for breakfast and lunch…
I’m looking forward to three outings this week, all involving food, first time I’ve been out since before Christmas..will be good to re-connect with civilisation…
Feb 14
Happy Valentine’s Day..we all received chocolate with breakfast, good start to the day..
Raised my blind, to a wave from Guy, working in the courtyard garden, it looks just beautiful..a credit to the gardening team..
Good to see Frances out in the cafe this morning, we enjoyed special morning tea, red roses, fresh strawberries with chocolate dip, etc..
Staff still wearing masks, covered by plastic visors..masks are close-fitting, with a metal strip across the bridge of the nose, must be so uncomfortable, their poor faces must be sore at the end of a shift..
Just started a new book, The Therapist, by BA Paris, from my Irish daughter in law, a good source of reading material..this one’s a thriller..
At bedtime, I tune in to Classic FM, from London..they often play Karl Jenkins’s Benedictus, Cantabile Orchestra & Choir, I hadn’t heard it before, never get tired of it..good for the soul..
Looking forward to a family lunch tomorrow, will have to search the wardrobe for something decent to wear, seems an age since dressing up to go anywhere civilised..hoping to find something that fits..
Will have to endure frequent RAT screenings, afterwards, the price we pay..
 15 Feb
We’ve discovered that our Man Of Many Talents, Greg, is also an ironer extraordinaire..as well as taking care of laundry during lockdown..
Hazel complained that her pants come back from laundry, ironed, but without creases..Greg says, give them to him, he’ll iron them for her..
He does all the ironing at home, what a treasure..
Enjoyed family lunch today, lovely to get out for a little adventure, and good company.
Not to mention the hand-made chocolates, a treat to share..
Completely forgot to do Wordle yesterday..quelle horreur..it was far too late, when I remembered..I was half asleep..
Granddaughter had already done today’s version before lunch, as well as wrangling four children, three to school, one toddler..she also runs half marathons, as does her Mum, they don’t get it from me..
Surviving Falls Prevention exercise class this afternoon is just about my limit..off to have a stab at Wordle, before I forget, again..
16 Feb
Staff now required to wear clear plastic goggles, in addition to close-fitting masks, somebody commented, they only need snorkel + goggles, to be equipped for deep-sea diving..
Hazel not herself today, feeling dizzy, staying in her room, bp, etc checked, all normal..Frances and I tackled the crossword, bamboozled by jaggery…coarse brown sugar..who knew..??
Hazel knew, of course, smarty-pants, told her she’s indispensable..
Got Wordle out in two goes, lucky guess..
Enjoyed a lovely back massage with RN Jo, she of the magical fingers..
Our lovely volunteer Gay in the café this morning, with her popular weekly stall, selling, sweets, chocolate, toiletries, etc, at cost price..any small profit is donated to a brain research charity, Gay makes a mean coffee, as well..
Lucky enough to hear Benedictus twice last night, played it before bed, Classic FM from London, played it again…a double treat..
17 Feb
Hazel back in top form in cafe this morning, we thrashed out the crossword, with input from physio, Ian, on a medical clue..
The protea fairy has been around again, found my vase full of beautiful blooms..
Got Wordle in five goes, phew.. near thing..
This afternoon, our first bus outing in ages, the ice cream run..with a grand tour of our beautiful area, on a lovely day..
Driver Trev diplomatically manages the air conditioning, ensuring those up the back get fresh air, while front seat passengers don’t freeze, no easy task, keeping everyone comfortable..
Life gradually returning to normal..we usually also enjoy a weekly lunch outing, to an accessible local venue, hopefully to be resumed once it’s safe to so so…always a popular treat..
Looking forward to VIEW Club lunch and meeting tomorrow, after the summer recess, we raise funds for the Smith Family and their Learning For Life Program..we sponsor two students, good effort for a small group..
Our own Sarah Russell featured on tonight’s 7.30 program, about to tune in..
Feeling devastated after watching the segment on the tragedy in residential Aged Care just now on 7.30 program..experiences of residents and families in some facilities, if you can call them that, have been nightmarish..
Sarah Russell made good points, but bureaucracy seems unmoved and aloof..even callous..the Minister is uncaring, to say the least..
Sorry if in focusing on my personal experience of the pandemic, I’ve been facetious, it was not my intention..I can only say to those affected families, I’m sorry..
18 Feb
According to this evening’s news, singing and dancing are now permitted once more…yippee…let the good times roll..
Enjoyed a quick coffee, in the cafe with Hazel this morning, made by Barbara, our lovely volunteer, told Hazel we’re saving the dreaded David Astle crossword for the weekend, so she’s not lulled into a false sense of security..
After spending most of the day out, at VIEW Club luncheon, meeting, etc, quite good to arrive home around around 3pm, and enjoy a nice cup of tea, in my room..
After almost two years, I do think of it as home, and the staff feel like old friends..
We have to undergo three RAT screenings after every outing, at two-day intervals..fair enough..so far, so good..fingers crossed..I’d really hate to be the one to bring The Dreaded Lurgy back into the place, after all we’ve been through..you’d feel like a leper..
We used to have piped music playing throughout the building, most people disliked it..Norah Jones was often heard caterwauling mournfully in the dining room at lunchtime., there was one Tubular Bells CD that was okay..
Since The Emergency, Powers That Be seem to have forgotten about music. thankfully. If we must have music, an occasional rock n roll number might be okay..most of us would have been young in that era..
Got home to find the Protea Fairy has been again, beautiful..
 21 Feb
Feeling a pang this morning, with news of the Queen’s COVID infection..
She’s just always been there, like a rock..certainty in chaotic times..
Remembering boarding school days, huddled around a crackly wireless in the Common Room, listening to the coronation..
Nothing against the future King Charles, just not for us, methinks..
The Scots are loyal royalists, they love and respect the Queen and her family..
Fond memories of clambering up a steep hill in rural Aberdeenshire, to see Prince Charles, on an informal visit to a local historical society, a commemoration of Old Sholty, as the locals call it, a tower built of local stone, commemorating the death of the son of the local Laird, in some long-forgotten war..
A strong gust of wind blew HRH’s kilt skyward during proceedings, revealing his royal blue knickers..not a true Scotsman, then..
A blurred pic of the event subsequently appeared in Woman’s Day, although I hadn’t seen any cameras in evidence on the day..
Back to reality, got Wordle out in four goes, average effort..
 22 Feb
22/2/22
Twos-day..
Nurse Sarah brought fresh proteas, just beautiful, so kind of her..
Got Wordle out in three goes, lucky guesses..
Hazel in top form, solving all the hardest crossword clues..with input from Heydon, tech wiz…our go-to with phone problems, etc..
Hazel had problems with her recliner chair, causing her to be marooned aloft..Greg has replaced it with a brand new one for her, expecting any minute to see H go through the roof, being launched into outer space..
Hazel’s daughter looking for her at tea-time yesterday, I told her H in her room, watching Home And Away, had my soaps confused, it was actually The Bold And The Beautiful..H says her daughter wouldn’t know the diff, just as well….
Nurse Tracy brought coconut oil for me to try, it’s really good for your hair, just rub in very sparingly about an hour before shampooing, good for face and neck, as well…needing all the help I can get, for fine curly hair..
Found a size 24 top in my cupboard, bit of a stretch of the imagination, as I’m size 8, must have happened during The Emergency, laundry staff say..
Passed another RAT screening today, phew..
Spotting a few new faces around the traps, hoping they settle in well, it’s a happy place..
23 Feb
Feeling sad today, about Ukraine..following View From My Window, on FB, so many brave souls sharing peaceful outlooks, on tenterhooks..
Waiting to see what Vlad The Impaler will do next..
Also heard on the news this morning, of the death of Gary Brooker, lead singer of Procol Harum..bringing back memories..flying over the Persian Gulf, at dawn, Whiter Shade Of Pale playing through headphones, feeling like the only person awake, in the world..in a Jumbo 747, cattle class..
First sightings of three humpback whales, off the coast, early starters on their migration north, we usually see large numbers around in May..when Migaloo, the albino, is spotted, we know all’s right with the world..
Got Wordle out in four goes, lucky guess..
Hazel revelling in her new recliner, Greg unable to fix the old one, if Greg can’t repair/ renovate anything, it’s cactus..
Greg taking a few well-earned days leave next week, he must have time due, after working 24/7 during The Emergency..leaving us in the capable hands of his offsider, Steve..Hopefully Greg at t’other end of a phone if we really, really need to call on him..not to mention the outdoor crew, at the ready..
Margy had a visit from her husband yesterday, first time she’d seen him in over two months, COVID outbreak only just over at Bupa..of course they speak on the phone daily, not quite the same..
A friend working at local Catholic aged care hostel tells me they had no COVID there, taking that with a grain of salt..
24 Feb
It’s still raining…asked to give up my seat on the bus, no worries, pretty miserable day for an outing..even in Nature’s Wonderland..even with ice cream, as an incentive..
Wordle answer today is bloke, thought that was a slang word..
Heydon got the only easy clue in the crossword, cicada, leaving Hazel and I to nut out the rest, with a little help from Google..H enjoying her new recliner, reading her audio books, she likes mysteries, library keeping her well supplied..tomorrow will be the dreaded DA crossword.. Volunteer Gay makes great coffee, says she only has to push the button, she’s very modest..
We read the sports section, H only interested in cricket, rugby league..
Glimpsed Guy, passing through, carrying his his trusty leaf-blower..perhaps hoping for a break in the weather..Greg enjoying a few days well-earned leave..he’s also captain of a local volunteer bushfire brigade..
Local low-lying bridges are under water, hopefully won’t prevent staff getting to work, last time we had flooding, some staff slept on mattresses on the floor downstairs, true dedication..
News is all bad, concerning Ukraine..feeling sad for the people involved..
25 Feb
Today’s saying from the cafe, “Think of all the beauty left around you, and be happy”..with a smiley face..relentlessly optimistic..especially in light of the tragedy unfolding in our world today..suppose we should be thankful, to live in peace..but feeling helpless, and sad,as well..for those under attack..
Wordle took five goes, not my best effort..
Maree, beautician extraordinaire, on her way to our beauty salon, says she’d better heat up the wax..sounding ominous..like a torture chamber..
Anita + Grace, on clean sheet day, sheer poetry in motion, great teamwork, Anita keen on hospital corners, Grace likes finishing touches..A even gave sheepskin on my recliner a good shake, first time it’s ever been touched..
Alisha from housekeeping made coffee for Hazel + I this morning, gave us strength to tackle David Astle crossword, not quite as bad as usual..he must be having an off day..we gave lamingtons a miss..
We know it’s Friday, fish n chips for lunch, followed by ice cream..I skip the ice cream, it’s not the real thing, probably to cater for dietary restrictions..
At family lunch last week, two year old and I enjoyed a bowl of ice cream each..you’re never too old for the real thing..
Remembering VE Day, in London, seems the world will never be rid of evil..
26 Feb
Remembering VE Day in London, please don’t let it be happening again..
Another megalomaniac, Vlad the Impaler..let loose on the world..
Got Wordle in five goes, not my best effort..
The dreaded weighing chair doing the rounds, not seen since before The Emergency..room for an extra biscuit to celebrate the verdict..
At Christmas, we received a surprise from the local primary school, a small gift, with a beautiful hand-made card, mine from Lincoln, who had a couple of goes at spelling PEACE, bless him..feeling maudlin, unable to share family lunch, shed a few tears over Lincoln and his card, I’ll always treasure it..
Little things mean a lot..so much more than people can ever know..
It’s still raining, Nurse S just popped in with body wash for me, her shirt is wet, says she just popped out for a fag, naughty girl..
Nurse Sarah and her lovely daughter, Jasmin, doing the rounds with fresh proteas, mine didn’t need replacing, they add lovely colour to our rooms..
Feeling grateful for what we have, peace in a troubled world..
 29 Feb
My neighbour G is distressed by constant news coverage of escalating fighting in Ukraine..G was fourteen, living in The Netherlands, under Nazi occupation, in WW2..G is afraid Putin is coming for us next, saying we’ll all have our throats cut in our beds..tried to persuade her we’re a long way away from Europe now..
This morning, told G we’d survived another night, she laughed, night terrors thankfully forgotten..
Nurse Sarah has just been around, replenishing lovely proteas..her daughter Jasmin got back to uni campus safely, driving through torrential downpours..Jas is doing nursing degree course, works casually during holidays,,Sarah has worked in Aged Care for nine years..
Enjoyed coffee with Hazel, Frances, Margy, normal service resumed..
We did crossword, skimmed the news, mostly depressing..
RN tells me residents now reluctant to go out, for fear of catching COVID, not liking having to undergo RAT screening three times in following week..
I’ve had another two tests, thankfully negative..
Got Wordle out in three guesses..
Happy crowd in cafe this morning..long may it continue..
 1 March
In the cafe this morning, over coffee, reading the news, we discussed Ukraine, the floods, then quality of food In residential aged care..
Frances, & Hazel both think our meals are quite good, none of us is losing weight..though it’s hardly haute cuisine, on asking around, residents seem fairly satisfied..there are few complaints.. Frances wondering why we’re not having avocados, they’re so cheap at the moment, and yummy..
Steve, Greg’s offsider, made coffee, before volunteer Gay took over..
Greg probably spending his leave volunteering with SES, during local flooding..our staff are certainly versatile..and hard-working…
The crossword was challenging, but we got there in the end..
Failed to solve Wordle, answer was rupee.
Falls Prevention exercises this afternoon, a shame more don’t attend, suppose there were other distractions on offer..
Watching the river rise, and it’s still raining..
 2 March
Dreaded Norah Jones caterwauling again, at lunchtime..somebody’s favourite, definitely not ours..
Greg back from leave, organising his local volunteer fire service, not the type to sit twiddling his thumbs..
Lovely volunteer Gay made coffee, had her popular kiosk, any small items we need, Gay will organise for us..
My personal favourite is chocolate coated ginger, yummy..
Got Wordle out, on the last chance..phew..
Bad news on all fronts, Ukraine, floods, evacuation of residents from aged care home in Lismore, assisted by Fijian abattoir workers, heroes, every one..
Meanwhile, the plight of many in aged care, is a low priority..unsurprisingly..
Loved Dr Sarah Russell’s article regarding our Minister For Aged Care, didn’t know whether to laugh or cry..required reading for every federal MP..
3 March
Weather thankfully improving today, rain cloud moving south..
Enjoyed coffee in the cafe this morning with Hazel, did crossword, had to look up spelling of anaesthetist, in absence of Ian, our physio aka walking medical encyclopaedia..
News generally not good, how are frail elderly faring in Ukraine, we wonder..
Got Wordle out in four guesses..answer can be staring you in the face..
Met a new resident, Gloria, at lunch, tells me she was hospitalised in neighbouring town, after suffering a stroke, next thing, she ended up here..
Gloria finding our meals nicer than hospital fare..that led to discussion about pumpkin, Ian says, in England pumpkin fed to pigs, not for human consumption..We left empty plates, scoffing pumpkin and all..
Appreciating not having to decide what to cook, food shopping, cooking, washing up, etc..ladies of leisure now..
4 March
Reading article in this month’s AWW A Labor Of Love, about our Opposition Leader, Albo, and Labor’s suite of policies, including aged care..
Noted comments by Aged Care Advocate, Dr Sarah Russell, re promise to make care providers accountable..(loving the mention of sports cars)..
‘And “rorting in the home care sector needs to be addressed as well,” says Sarah’
Food for thought..
Sunshine today, but more rain forecast..
Friday today, fish n chips for lunch with Rob, gave pseudo ice cream a miss..
In the cafe first thing, over coffee and a blueberry muffin, Hazel and I did the dreaded DA crossword, read the news, including sports pages..
Situation worsening in Ukraine, we admire the courage of those facing the enemy invaders..and closer to home, so many affected by floods..
Thankfully, mostly happy faces in our little world..
 5 March
Big shock this morning, hearing of the death of Shane Warne..world cricket will never be the same..Hazel’s son phoned to tell her, I heard it on the news..
Thanks to the internet, we caught up on the latest news, crossword, reading the paper, an afterthought..
Ironic that the British press is all over it, the man they loved to hate..
Mardi Gras is on tonight, a few years ago I was surprised to receive an invitation to Mardi Gras After Party..they would have looked, to see moi rocking up with my wheelie walker..someone said, it wouldn’t have made one iota of difference, everyone is welcome..I had bought an item from the Gay Pride Store, on eBay..
In 1983, on a Fokker Friendship flight Sydney-to a north NSW coastal town, Rita Coolidge and her band were co-passengers, en-route to a one-night stand at the local RSL Club..I was sitting across the aisle with a local detective (not in custody) and he told me who they were..it was memorable because they were talking about Mardi Gras, one of their entourage was gay, and they had escorted him to Oxford Street the previous night..he was stoked, and so were they…good memories….
 6 March
It’s still raining…
Hazel and I enjoyed coffee in the cafe this morning, a different RAO on duty, happy to turn on the machine, despite it being Sunday..yippee..
First ten pages of paper all about Shane Warne, next ten about war in Ukraine, the rest about flood devastation…all bad news…
Remembered that it was 1984, not 1983, when Rita Coolidge toured..
Our friend Margy not at all well, confined to a wheelchair from now on..
Still putting a brave face on things, wearing her lippy..despite being in a lot of pain..it’s a long-standing problem, gradually worsening..
Read interesting article about mental asylums in 1800s, women could be admitted on flimsiest of excuses, one establishment in particular, Kew Asylum, seen as an idyllic estate, flowers and hedges on outer walls.
Inside, prison-like conditions..reminiscent of horror stories of some of our worst nursing homes..
Very quiet today, no visitors, a few residents enjoyed family outings..
We’re still here, making the best of things, take care, everyone…
7 March
It’s still raining..
Hazel meant to be going out with her daughter today, sadly cancelled at the last minute, as daughter, a paramedic, had to cover a co-worker’s shift..
Hazel disappointed, then received a call from grandson, a new great grandchild on the way, a cause for celebration..
Papers very late, probably due to weather, they come by road from Sydney..
Crossword saved for another day..
We’re expect more local flooding, staff having to make detours to get to work..
At least we’re high and dry, and thankful..
 7 March
Due to local flooding, we’re short-staffed this evening shift, one person who lives nearby available to work, assisted by one Deputy Director of Nursing..on our wing, morning shift will stay until 6pm..
Some night shift staff will start early, to fill the gaps..
Many ancilliary staff unable to get here today, but the security guy arrived this morning, all systems are go..
Luckily, we’re high and dry..but the nearby town will not be so lucky..
Wondering what tomorrow will bring..
 9 March
Life returning to normal today, low-lying areas water-logged, but levees in town not topped, rural roads impassable, causing many to make long detours to get to work..lots of water damage to farming properties..
We were reasonably fortunate, this time..thanks to staff who went above and beyond, again..ancillary staff back on deck, Greg has been busy organising assistance wherever needed..in his local community..says it’s wonderful, everyone pitching in, filling sandbags, moving stock, etc..
Nurse Sarah brought in lovely proteas this morning..working on her day off..
I have been a member of the Letterbox Project for about a year, corresponding by snail mail with a lovely lady called Michelle, in rural Victoria..via Project HQ at Dubbo..
Surprising to find today’s letter, dated 15.2.22, has a section missing,
about four lines is blacked out..in between a paragraph about my GoGo, and missing Christmas festivities..a nice note included from Program Manager, advising a section is redacted due to inclusion of personal information..
Despite holding the page up to the window, and squinting at it from all angles, neither I nor RN Jo were able to make out the forbidden words..
Censorship comes a bit late, as Michelle and I had already exchanged lots of info..wondering if ASIO might get involved next…
 10 March
We were fortunate to escape a major flood in our valley, staff were affected, some worked extra shifts and stayed overnight, we’re very grateful to them all..any organisation is only as good as its staff, its most valuable asset..
Margy got her Gogo today, we’re planning staging a race meeting on the veranda, Greg will be race marshall and is organising a checkered flag..
Never a dull moment..
It’s stopped raining, today at least, hallelujah….
Take care, everyone….
11 March
As from today, we are permitted two visitors plus two children under twelve, per day. Visits in resident’s room, or outdoor area, only..
Visitors must not circulate, or meet in communal area..
Seems fair enough..usual COVID precautions apply..
Really enjoyed The Maitland and Morpeth Quartet, narrated by Ruth Cracknell, thanks to Sheila Dawson for heads-up.. I have recommended it to RAO, for residents’ enjoyment..as Sheila suggests..
Monthly newsletter from Letterbox Program Manager reveals that she is new to the position, hence perhaps her over-zealous censorship, as sharing of limited personal information has never been a problem in the past..
Four of us shared coffee and DA crossword in the cafe this morning, then fish + chips for lunch, as it’s Friday, followed by ice cream cones, yippee..
Volunteer Babs, assisted me to tidy a cupboard yesterday, amazing what accumulates in two years..lots of stuff for the Op Shop, plus rediscovered old treasures, travel diary from 1980s, etc..reliving good memories..
Babs motivated to start on my wardrobe next, now that will be a challenge..
 12 March
Looking at the important issues raised in Aged Care Matters, as a consumer, I most value Quality Of Life, although other concerns are of course important, as well..we’re never too old to appreciate pleasant surroundings,
freedom to choose, how we live our lives, the ability to enjoy ourselves, have a laugh, good times..the right to privacy, the ability to live as we would wish..
I feel privileged to be enjoying my final years, feeling thankful..
PS got Wordle out again today…..never a dull moment.

 14 March

Our Director of Nursing returned from leave today, a well-earned break..
Good to see her back..told her Greg ran a tight ship during her absence..(Also told her we didn’t get coffee yesterday..)
Normal service resumed in cafe this morning, lovely volunteer Barb made coffee, distributed rock cakes..my favourite, Hazel doesn’t like them..
New resident Jeanie asking about payment, pleased to hear cafe is free..
Gardening team passed through, giving us a wave..did crossword..
Enjoyed visit from podiatrist, in my room, very thorough, and painless..
Asked where I was from, said a faint English accent was discernible, told him it’s been a long time since anyone said that..thought I sounded dinki-di Aussie..
Got Wordle out in three goes, did online order for B, new trousers, Margy wants some as well, must be autumn in the air, love spending other people’s money..
15 March
After a session in the beauty salon with hairdresser Donna, she of the magic scissors, I’m feeling like a new woman..it’s a nasty shock, seeing yourself as others see you in the salon mirror when you walk in, looking like the Wild Man From Borneo..order is now restored..
Hazel didn’t get her hair cut, wanting to save the little bit of curl she has left..
H has lovely thick hair..lucky girl..
We enjoyed fresh banana cake with our coffee, with soft icing, Jeanie, H and I sticky from ear to ear..as we finished the crossword..after getting stuck on nonpareil, we thought it meant hundreds and thousands..(it means peerless)..
Important report on 7.30 this evening about low wages in the Aged Care sector, application to the Fair Work Commission for increases of at least 25%..needs to happen without delay..
16 March
Simplicity is the glory of expression..
Thought for the day in the cafe this morning, bit deep for us..
Fresh scones + jam + cream with our coffee, yummy..
Crossword was all over the place, Frances, Hazel + I got there in the end..
Didn’t get Wordle out yesterday, must pay more attention..
Big build up to St Patrick’s Day tomorrow, wearing of the green..much searching of wardrobes..
Margy has been presented with L plates for her gopher, seems to be handling it like a pro..I’m hoping for P plates..
Hazel tells us price of coffee is going up, to $7 per cup..must be true, she heard it on the news..if we ever have to pay, it will be a case of spending the kids’ inheritance..we won’t be going without..
I might have snow on the roof, but I’ve still got all my marbles, quote from novel I’ve just started, The Little Wartime Library..heartening thought..
Hard Quiz on telly tonight, yippee…
17 March
You die twice..Once when your heart stops beating, and again when your name is spoken for the last time..
On a happier note, St Patrick’s Day is being celebrated in suitable fashion, much wearing of the green, with green cake for morning tea, a suggestion of ham and green eggs for lunch, thankfully didn’t eventuate..
There is a concert this afternoon, which will be popular..
Got Wordle out in four goes, not bad..we only got stuck on one word in this morning’s crossword, dissimilarities..Hazel got three legged race in one go..
Reading The Little Wartime Library, so far, so good..
18 March
Hazel & Frances sent a nurse to look for me this morning, I was late arriving at the cafe, they had to start coffee without me, I soon caught up..
I’ve just watched the BBC documentary, Freddie Mercury -Final Act, it’s very moving..available on iView..a great celebration of life, and love..
19 March
Enjoying a lunch out with friends yesterday, it felt strange that nobody was wearing a mask..I will have a RAT screening on the 21st March..fingers crossed..
News today that the Minister for Aged Care is at it again, “removing incentives to deliver treatments that are not clinically appropriate..” such as
Physiotherapy..it will be up to Aged Care Providers to decide if these treatments are necessary..article in today’s SMH, food for thought..
Residents are unhappy that incontinence products have changed, to an inferior type, which is a shame, some might resort to buying their own..
Meals today were nondescript, stew with “buttered pasta” for lunch, looked unappetising, opting for a sandwich, and fruit, I looked forward to chicken pies with mash and gravy, this evening, sadly due to “supply issues” they were vegetable pies, lacking in flavour and substance..
Looking forward to a roast pork dinner tomorrow..
20 March
Sunday again, no visitors, enjoyed coffee with Frances and Hazel, did DA crossword saved from Friday’s SMH, with a little help from Google..
Enjoyed tasty profiteroles from the tea trolley..
Waved Hazel off on family outing, hoping she’s having a beaut day..
Enjoyed nice roast pork dinner with Rob, spotless white damask tablecloth, I managed to spill a smidgeon of fruit juice on it..trust me..
Dropped the local paper in to Shirley, she likes to see it, even though there’s rarely anything much of interest in it, apart from local funeral announcements..found Shirl having curlers put in her hair by Meg, one of our lovely nurses..is there anything these talented people can’t do..
Just hearing Queen, We Are The Champions, on local community radio..feeling nostalgic…
21 March
Hazel was stonkered after her big day out yesterday, four generations sharing the fun, Haz in bed by 6pm..
Reading the back page this morning, Hazel’s team, Panthers have signed Cleary, father + son, for another five years, told her we won’t be here by then, Haz says she will be, with bells on, she’s almost ninety now..will probably outlive us all..
Gratuitous fire alarm sounded, fire brigade has to attend from town to turn it off, disturbing the peace in the cafe, passing staff suggested we go to reception if we wanted to see good-looking men in uniform..unmoved, we chose to finish the crossword, instead..
22 March
Hazel, Frances and I enjoyed coffee over the crossword this morning, our regular morning routine..Haz likes to hear sporting news, relating to cricket, rugby league..subjects I knew absolutely nothing about before meeting her..
This afternoon we had falls prevention exercise class, very worthwhile..
More heavy rain forecast, oh joy..
There has been a change in supplier of incontinence products, to an inferior brand, presumably a cost-cutting exercise, residents are not happy..
Got Wordle out in three goes, answer I would consider a slang word..
These posts will re-commence after the election. Dr Russell’s focus is on winning the seat of Flinders.
 ******
George
Jan 23
I noticed a sign posted at our front gate, my room is next to the gate, when I read it, it said ” if you wish to enter ring this number, the aged care centre num. I approached the rn and asked why? She said we have a covid case, I said, another one ? She replied yes. No other residents were wearing masks! As you know I have been in self isolation in my room for 2 weeks. Tested after the first case and came back negative ! I don’t believe the other residents are aware of the situation, I am worried ! Because I still have to interact with staff, medication and meals!
Jan 27
I am lucky, I am in one of the good aged care homes:  air-conditioned, ceiling fan, windows and doors that open to the outside. Where possible the cook caters to my dietary needs. I go to the local pool every second day, and shop if I need to. I always wear a mask when out of my room or in public. I have chosen to isolate in my room 19 days so far.
************
Joan
Jan 22
Yes it feel like we are in jail except that prisoners in jail get visitors. Our “warders” are the only people we see. The meals are mainly cold by the time you get them as we are not allowed out of our rooms to go to the dining room. The carers/warders are very good but because of staff shortages there is only so much they can do. What a waste of our lives. It’s not living – it’s loneliness and very boring.
Jan 23
I’m 84 and I live in what I believe to be one of the better nursing homes. Under normal circumstances I would not complain about things only the food which I have continually complained about but nothing changes there. However with lockdown seeming to becoming the norm. I can’t say I’m very happy. I certainly have no complaints about the carers here. They do their best but as there are not sufficient numbers and they have to follow rules it’s difficult for them. We have been in lockdown for most of January and it looks like it is going to continue as another round of isolation has just started. We are told nothing officially and mostly find out information through overhearing or a slip of the tongue.
Jan 24
The fact that we have no air conditioning in our rooms doesn’t help. The poor carers must feel like they are living in a sauna with all the plastic garb they have to wear in this hot weather. It is having a very bad effect on some of our more vulnerable residents as well. Some of our residents like to spend the day walking up and down, outside and in. Now they are confined to their rooms they must be getting very restless and fretful. Everyone here has been vaccinated three times and no one has been hospitalised as far as I know. I realise that being confined to our rooms is for our own benefit but there surely must be another way of safeguarding us or at least entertaining us. There is not much to do when confined to a small room day after day with no one to speak to.
Yesterday I was very disturbed and upset to hear one of my neighbours crying outside my door. She was so upset. She is a lovely little lady with dementia and she likes to wander. She escaped from her room and was trying to open a door leading into the dining room but one of the carers saw her and was trying to get her back into her room, she was determined not to go and was putting up a fight. I heard her shout ”No” and then she started crying her heart out. She wanted to see her daughter who usually comes in quite regularly. After lots of wailing and shouting and with the help of another carer they managed to calm her down and get her into her room but it was quite upsetting. The girls were very patient and kind to her. She just doesn’t understand…….Today I had chips and a veggie patty for lunch, it was definitely not what I ordered because I never eat chips or mashed potato and the amount of veg in it was pitiful, less than a teaspoon of peas and corn. It was practically stone cold. I could have sent it back but I felt sorry for the girl as she would be sent back with a small list of what was available and there probably wasn’t anything worth having anyway. All the food here is either frozen and steamed, we never get a roast and nothing is fried. It’s all tasteless and it might have a fancy name but tastes nothing like it should. We get Angus Steak some days which is slow cooked in a steamer, lamb chop is the same never grilled or fried. Tomorrow I have ordered Satay Vegetables for lunch which will not taste anything like satay probably because peanuts are common allergy causers. So why call it Satay. For dinner I will have soup, a small amount in a little dish. I haven’t had a proper roast potato since I got here, or roasted meat it’s all slow cooked for eight hours and it’s tasteless. I wish we had a kitchen where we could cook our own food, under supervision of course. We do sometimes have a BBQ here which consists of a sausage in a slice of bread with onions which is actually BBQd. That’s a real treat. I have consistently complained about the food here but nothing changes.
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Aliehs
25 Jan
There seem to be so many entirely justifiable complaints. BUT:
Could we change the emphasis to the facilities and their overarching organisations that are doing the right thing.
I am in permanent residential care. My facility is not without problems, but management and staff perform well above normal expectations. We, as residents, if we are sound mentally, recognise this. Even if we get irritated at times, because we can’t always do what we want.
Can we recommend our better performing agencies as examples of what can be done?
Warts and all; they’re not perfect.
28 Jan
At 10 am, I had just finished my mail delivery, [ I am the singing postman] when I was intercepted, and urged to go straight to my room- [ go to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200]. It turned out that my wing had to be isolated for 7 days as someone had tested positive to the routine swab.
[Sherlockian me has narrowed the possible candidates down to 4 -has to be someone who has been out]
The protocol has swung into action very efficiently. Carers all in PPE. We are all confined to our rooms, meals all on disposable plates and cutlery. Poor carers racing up and down to persuade those who wander, that they have to stay put. A process which has to be frequently repeated with the same people. We can have our doors and windows open to watch the passing parade, and the pursuit of would be paraders.
Many phone calls cancelling appointments . Thank heaven for Borrowbox, TV, and the ABC; not to mention my extravagant purchases of CDs and books. And I recommend the Seniors’ quiz and crossword to one and all.
Just another twirl on our roundabout.

Aged care homes with outbreaks

The Covid outbreaks aged care homes Excel spreadsheet contains data obtained from the Department of Health’s Weekly COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian residential aged care facilities.

To explain some background about how this weekly report came about – and why I continue to update Excel spreadsheets that summarise the data.

I began naming aged care homes during Victoria’s outbreak in 2020, when the data was “top secret”.

At a Senate inquiry hearing on August 4, 2020, Dr Brendan Murphy, secretary of the Department of Health, and Senator Richard Colbeck, the Minister for Aged Care at the time, refused to name the aged care homes with outbreaks during Victoria’s second wave. They explained that providers didn’t want to be publicly named because they were worried about “reputational damage”.

In my view, it is not the role of the Department of Health or a Minister to protect aged care homes from reputational damage. So I began preparing a weekly list of the outbreaks in Victorian aged care homes in 2020.

After a month or so weeks of updating my list (mostly from intel from members of my Aged Care Matters Facebook Group), the Department of Health released its first Weekly report on 11 September 2020. At that time, an outbreak was defined as one resident or staff testing positive for Covid.

More recently the Department has listed only the names of aged care homes with two or more Covid cases.

This data has been released every week. However, many people told me they found the reports difficult to understand. So I began presenting the data in a simple Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet includes the number of cases (residents and staff) and deaths (residents) in each aged care home.

With the Omicron wave, my spreadsheets have enabled people to track the outbreaks in each aged care home over time. This has been important for families who do not receive timely information from the aged care home.

It also enabled people to observe the increased number of aged care homes with outbreaks.

Date Number aged care homes with Covid outbreak
Dec-03 28
Dec-10 36
Dec-17 54
Dec-24 105
Jan-07 495
Jan-14 1,107
Jan-21 1,198

On 31 December 2022 – when Omicorn was spreading like wildfire in aged care homes – the Department did not release the weekly data. No explanation was given for this failure to keep the public (including families) updated.

The weekly report recommenced on 7 January 2022.

In the sheet titled “7 Jan”, the entries highlighted with yellow indicate the aged care homes homes that went into lockdown because a staff member tested positive (i.e. no residents tested positive). In NSW, for example, about 15 per cent of aged care homes were in lockdown on 7 Jan because a staff member tested positive (i.e. not a resident).
The outbreaks caused by staff bringing Covid into the aged care home were preventable. They could have been avoided with all staff having a rapid antigen testing before their shift. I first wrote about using rapid antigen tests in aged care homes in The Guardian in  December 2020.
While taking a test may be inconvenient and time-consuming, it is infinitely preferable to putting residents and families through the trauma of a lockdown.
I put notes in a column of the January 7 spreadsheet to indicate the aged care homes that had a surge in case numbers. These were the aged care homes that needed to be watched (hoping they didn’t have a further surge in case numbers). However, it was not possible to track these homes because the Department did not release the names of the aged care homes with outbreaks on 14 January.
On Jan 14, the Department indicated in a footnote of the Weekly Report that there were “technical issues”. Rather than delay the release of the report until these “technical issues” were resolved, someone in the Department decided to cut and paste the Appendix from the previous report, perhaps hoping that no one would notice.
I noticed – and I was appalled! No data is better than misleading data.
With poor communication in many aged care homes, families rely on the weekly report (and my spreadsheet) for accurate information. In my 6 years of advocacy, the Department’s decision to release a report with misleading data was the nadir. It made me despair.
The decision to cut and paste the Appendix in 14 Jan’s report is yet another example of the Department of Health’s lack of transparency and accountability.
If we can’t trust the Department to release accurate information, who can we trust?
Over the past few months, I have frequently emailed a list of mistakes in the Department’s weekly report. On 9 January, I emailed:
Hi there

Thanks for releasing the data – I am sure it has been a busy time with so many aged care homes with outbreaks.

I note with confusion that you are now naming some home care providers in your list of aged care homes with outbreaks. Are you able to tell me why?
On 24 Dec, you listed the following home care providers as active outbreaks:
Integratedliving Home Care Packages
Kincare
St Basil’s In Home Care
On 7 Jan, you listed
Calvary Community Care
Care Connect
Five good friends
Anglicare SQ South Coast Region Home Care
Integrated Living Australia
Multicultural Aged Care Services Geelong Inc
Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association
Banyule City Council
Hume  City Council
Northern Health Home Care Packages – Level 4
Wintringham Home Care
The Australian Asian Association of WA Triple A Care
You may also be interested in correcting the entry numbers 115 and 237 in the Appendix.
Also – Bupa Clemton Park is in NSW, not Victoria. Also you may want to correct the spelling.
Also, curious that Wesley House (SA) had 1 resident with an active case on 24th Dec. Yet on 7 Jan, had zero (with zero resolved).

Regards, Sarah

I received no reply to my email.

I no longer trust the accuracy  of the data from the Department of Health. Nonetheless, I continue to update my spreadsheets because families tell me my spreadsheets are helpful.

Updating the current spreadsheet involved adding 703 additional aged care homes with outbreaks. It was a mammoth effort.

I also wrote another email to the Department.

Hi again

Could you please forward this email to whoever is responsible for the weekly updates.

Putting on record (again) my extreme disappointment at DoH’s decision to cut and paste the Appendix from Jan 7 into Jan 14.
I appreciate you had technical issues. However no data is better than misleading data.
Did you consider the families who rely on this information (due to poor communication in many aged care homes)? In my 6 years as a voluntary aged care advocate, it was the nadir.
Having said that, I am pleased that you have corrected some of your earlier mistakes – On 21 Jan, there are no home care services in your list of residential aged care outbreaks. You have also listed Clemton Park (spelt correctly in 21 Jan edition) in NSW, not Victoria. Thank you
The report on 21 January has less mistakes than I have become accustomed to seeing in these weekly reports. However, you have listed Catholic Healthcare St Joseph Aged Care twice with different numbers. Does this aged care home have 3 or 8 residents tested positive?
I also note with surprise that Lark Ellen Aged Care (that had 20 Covid positive residents on 7 January) is not listed. Is the outbreak resolved?
Ditto Blue Cross Elly Kay in Victoria. It had 40 Covid positive residents on 7 January. Yet it is not listed in 21 Jan report. Is the outbreak resolved?
I am also pleasantly surprised that Villa Maria Catholic homes O’Neill Aged Care Residence had 21 residents with Covid on 7 Jan, and zero on 21 Jan. Might be worth checking if this is correct.  Also worth checking Whitlesea Lodge (21 residents with Covid on 7 Jan; zero on Jan 21).
I would welcome another conversation with Cameron, if this is possible

I also used compared the data from 7 January with 21 January to identify 10 aged care homes with largest increase of residents with Covid.

Aged care home Residents +ve on 7 Jan Residents +ve on 21 Jan Resident deaths
Estia Health Kilbride (NSW) 0 119 4
Russian Relief Association of St Sergius of Radonezh (NSW) 6 113 8
Cardinal Stepinac Village (NSW) 16 103 10
Uniting Wesley Gardens Belrose (NSW) 0 88 0
Bossley Parkside Care Community (NSW) 50 86 7
Fronditha Clayton Aged Care Facility (2nd outbreak) (Vic) 0 85 5
Bupa Greenacre (3rd outbreak) (NSW) 44 80 5
Forest Lake Lodge (QLD) 0 77 7
Bupa Clemton Park (2nd Outbreak) (NSW) 33 52 0
Constitution Hill Aged Care (NSW) 22 52 2

 

We need to know the factors that contribute to some homes containing the virus while other homes have had a huge surge. For example, in past fortnight, 105 home had a surge in numbers while 71 had no change in numbers.

Is this due to: Residents not receiving a booster shot? Poor infection control? Unable to access PPE? Inadequate staffing levels/training (e.g. training in how to don and doff PPE)? Poor ventilation?