May 22, 2018

Not Good Enough, Instance Of Neglect In Aged Care Highlights Grievous Need For Change

 

A Newcastle Aged Care resident was left in bed surrounded by her own urine and faeces.

Many voices are chiming in on this horrifying revelation saying cost-cutting and understaffing are at the crux of this shocking example of neglect.

Hearing of a situation like this strikes us all, regardless of age, background and context. When we are confronted by a story such as this something deep down in us revolts. The thought and in this case, reality, that a human could be so treated, especially while they are in a state of such dependency and fragility is deeply abhorrent. How is it that we should respond? A start is to stop and listen. To turn away from our cat videos and social media presences and to give the first dignity, to be listened to.

Val Simpson lived out the last of her days at Tinonee Gardens The Multicultural Village. It was there that her family saw her mouth was consistently dry, cracked and shrivelled with filth. Her daughter said at times that her mother could hardly talk to her because her mouth was so dry. Food was left in her mouth and she displayed signs of prolonged dehydration.

Ms Simpson had dementia and this made her particularly dependent on care. It also heightened her level of care, in the number of services she needed and frequency of application. Staff at Tinonee have stated that incontinence pads were limited to three residents per day and that many residences even if they were lucky enough to get pads or nappies, had to have rash cream frequently applied.

The rationing of pads is an extremely alarming fact in the face of such desperate need for them. Val Simpson was keenly affected by the rationing of pads as she was prone to urinary tract infections. Particularly grievous was the condition in Ms Simpson and her inability to be understood. Through being in such pain and at the receiving end of acute neglect it can only be imagined as to how frustrated and scared Mrs. Simpson was. Yet Ms Dodd, Val’s daughter said that staff put her mother’s behaviour down to anger management problems and gave her sedatives instead.

Apart from the grievous neglect in hygiene and resources, Ms Simpson also went missing in the middle of winter, only to be found hours later near the bins when the staff were taking the rubbish out.

The home has subsequently apologised to Ms Simpson’s family, this apology coming three weeks after the home was sanctioned for failing to meet 10 out of 44 industry benchmarks.

This case of blatant neglect and contravention of industry standards comes in the wake of significant government initiative to attempt to address Aged Care sector issues. The new Quality and Safety Commission is touted as having a particular focus on risk management and rapid action, with the added caveat of a development of a serious incident response scheme, says Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt.

If change is to happen then all parties, families, loved ones, government agencies, homes and medical staff will need to maintain open, frequent and frank conversations to ensure that our most vulnerable are listened to and looked after.

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  1. As an RN with many years Aged Care experience and a lifetime of nursing behind me I agree that this RN and carer acted negligently ( and pathetically!) in hiding away allowing this woman to go unrestrained injuring others.
    My question is how much experience this RN had as I have personally witnessed in recent years the hiring of new Uni trained RN’s who are not required any more as in the past to have significant post graduate education and experience before being employed.
    I have had numerous similar instances over many years in which staff have had to take drastic action to protect other residents however in 2 instances I have had to put myself at risk tackling the resident myself as others (RN’s and carers) have refused to assist due to fear of reprisals from Management and the ‘do-gooders’ in the system who may cry ‘assault’.
    The current education to prevent abuse of residents in Aged Care goes to ridiculous lengths in their definition of ‘abuse’, eg to gently uncurl a dementia residents fingers from a bed rail in order to carry out essential care. Of course carers leave and reattend but some residents have a fixation of hanging onto bedrails constantly and their care could never be attended if this was taken to the extreme then the relatives complain when Care isn’t done so it’s often a ‘no win’ situation for staff.

    Caring for people with dementia is very very complex and carers are trained not to push any form of needed care including feeding, fluids, mouth care etc if the resident resists or refuses this. This is what complicates the care required and along with short staffing and inadequate experience and training of both RN’s and carers for this complex field there are numerous less than adequate care situations daily in any facility.

    YOU HAVE TO WORK IN THE FIELD YOURSElF TO TRULY UNDERSTAND THE COMPLEXITIES!

    Reading even some articles from your journalist team are even frustrating to a degree as all the aspects of a situation are not included , eg the lady with dementia that was found outside in winter near the rubbish bins was probably let out by a visiting relative ( a fairly regular occurrence) so how is this a fault of the staff when they are all probably behind closed doors caring for other residents?
    Other articles are often idealistic, the experienced nurses who work in the field KNOW all this but it just cannot be applied in the current system, we would need virtually double or triple the experienced nurses and as for carers there would need to be a ratio of 1 carer to 2 or 3 at most high care residents and of course all would have to have far superior training than they have at present

    Will the funding ever be there for the above. Obviously not with the aging population! Therefore some of what is written is unrealistic.

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