Aged care worker takes leave after her own mother drops to 38kg

Aged care workers mum drops to 38kg
Image: iStock.

When a Newcastle aged care worker discovered her mother – who resides in a different aged care facility – was weak and weighed only 38 kilograms, she knew immediately that she had to step in and help.

When Ann Power spoke to her mother on a video call in the final days of 2021, she sensed something was wrong. 

“I’m weak,” her mother told her from her Newcastle aged care home in NSW.

Mary Hilton, Ms Power’s 83-year-old mother, has Parkinson’s disease and is bed bound. She is only able to move her upper body.

“That [conversation] was the trigger”, Ms Power told the ABC

Newcastle was in the middle of the Omicron outbreak, and staff shortages were having a devastating effect on aged care homes in the region. 

Ms Power told the ABC that at her mother’s aged care home of 34 staff and 19 residents contracted the highly contagious COVID-19 strain.

The concerned daughter and aged care worker emailed her mother’s home to ask for an exemption to the strict visiting rules. She asked how much her mother weighed.

“Within four hours, I got an email to say, ‘You can come in whenever you want, stay however long you want, and do whatever you need to do’,” Ms Power told the ABC.

Ms Power, who was in Canberra at the time, drove straight to her mother’s home.

“From that day forward I went in three times a day to feed her, and she ate everything.

“When I got in there she couldn’t even scratch her face, I had to do it for her.

“She didn’t have the energy to lift her hand to her face.”

Power took extended leave from the aged care home where she works in order to continue providing assistance to her mother.

Viv Allanson is the CEO of another Newcastle aged care home, Maroba Aged Care facility, where Ms Power works. She told the ABC their home also faced serious staff shortages over the Christmas and New Year period.

She said it was “an incredibly challenging time” for the sector, as staff were forced to stay home because they had either tested positive to COVID-19 or were forced into isolation after being identified as a close contact.

“The situation they were in wasn’t because they were slack, or didn’t care,” Ms Allanson said.

The Newcastle region did not receive enough help through the Commonwealth’s surge workforce, she explained.

“That is no sort of a surge workforce,” she added.

Ms Hilton has gained five kilograms over the last month and her aged care home has implemented a raft of changes.

Her daughter Ms Power said, “They have put in lots of processes, they’ve assigned someone to feed her, they’re keeping a food chart.”

But she worries about the residents who don’t have anyone to speak up for them.

“I know there’s a lady next door who is in a similar position to mum and I’ve never seen anyone feed her yet. I’ve never heard anyone go in there,” she told the ABC.

“I feel very sorry for anyone who doesn’t have an advocate for them in aged care. I think they’re truly forgotten, especially those who can’t speak up for themselves.”

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  1. Please read the article 03/03/2022 in The Courier Mail, reported by Julie Cross – ‘Too many starving’ – Aged-care weight loss shock.
    Statistics and many serious questions are unanswered here.

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