Jul 27, 2023

Older woman beaten to death by fellow dementia resident at Sydney facility

Joan Hobbs was fatally bashed only eight weeks after she entered residential aged care. [Source: 7News]

A family is demanding solutions to aged care’s understaffing epidemic after their mother was beaten to death by a fellow resident a week before her 90th birthday. 

Joan Hobbs, 89, was beaten with a walking frame by an 86-year-old male resident on July 17 at Kirrawee’s IRT Thomas Holt Aged Care Centre in Sydney. The male resident had only been at the facility for two weeks as a respite dementia patient at the time of the incident.

The man entered Joan’s private room and severely beat her – leaving her with severe injuries such as facial bruising and shattered bones in her arm. The family woke to a text from staff and rushed to Sutherland Hospital where they saw the severity of Joan’s condition.

Having cared for her mother for six years prior to her short eight-week stint in residential aged care, Joan’s daughter Erin Mulholland said she never wanted her mother to end up in a nursing home. However, as Joan’s dementia progressed, doctors advised she needed full-time care.

Ms Mulholland Told 7News she and her sister, Terri Hobbs, had no choice but to “sit with her and wait until she died because nothing else was going to happen” and “wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy, to see your mum hurt like that.” 

Joan’s daughters Erin Mulholland and Terri Hobbs. [Source: 7News]

The sisters never suspected a fellow dementia patient would kill their mother in a place meant to keep them safe and believe this tragedy wouldn’t have happened if more staff were rostered on at the facility. They said they do not blame the man or the staff, instead pointing fingers at a system that they said failed their mum.

“There’s nothing that can change what happened to mum now, but there is something that we can do to change what happens for other people in the future,” Ms Hobbs added.

Joan – a former social worker and dedicated mother – would have celebrated her 90th birthday next week, described by her daughters to be an “intelligent, beautiful, compassionate woman”. 

IRT has allegedly reported the incident to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and a police investigation is underway.

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