Jun 18, 2021

“She didn’t need to die”: Heartbroken family seeking answers after beloved mother’s death

Elderly woman using walker

“To this day I’ve been given no explanation, no apology, no accountability,” the woman’s daughter, Jeanie Sinclair, told the ABC’s 7.30 this week.

At the time the accident occurred, Sally Curtis was living alone in a Sydney retirement village. Aged 90, she was very frail and weighed only 37kg. Curtis was being cared for by home care provider Oxley Home Care.

7.30 aired distressing footage that showed Curtis losing balance moments after stepping onto a travelator with her walker.

“Mum just fell backwards and such a thud,” said Sinclair, noting in frustration that an elevator was located nearby.

Curtis suffered severe swelling on her shoulder after the fall, and sadly died the next day.

“She didn’t need to die,” Sinclair told the ABC.

Oxley’s care plan stated that Curtis needed to be closely monitored in order to prevent falls.

But on the day in question, Oxley used contract staff to take Curtis to the shops, and a contractor was hired through agency McArthur. 

McArthur provided a statement to 7.30, expressing their condolences and noting they had assisted Oxley with a thorough investigation into the matter. They said Oxley had provided them with details of Curtis’s care plan.

McArthur’s statement said the contractor had “attempted to stop and break the fall”. 

The carer provided “immediate assistance at the scene”, and then took Curtis to the shopping centre’s medical centre, who arranged for Curtis to be taken to hospital.

Oxley Home Care also issued 7.30 with a statement, explaining that the matter had been investigated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, and the inquiry is now “finalised”.

The Commission told 7.30 it could not comment on the specific details of the complaint it received about this matter.

Sinclair told the ABC the Commission closed the case, noting that the family were satisfied with the investigation. 

“No, I’m not satisfied,” she shared. She is now asking for a coronial inquiry.

Professor Joseph Ibrahim, Head, Health Law and Ageing Research Unit, Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, told 7.30 he would like the coroner’s office to consider the matter.

“What I’m interested in is finding an explanation for the family, and part of that explanation requires some undertaking that action will be taken so no-one else would need to go through this set of circumstances again … and I think that a detailed investigation with that as the primary focus would be beneficial to the country, not just the family,” he said.

“I feel like there’s been no justice for my mum,” Sinclair added.

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  1. Unfortunately I also have had dealings with the ACQ&SC regarding the abuse and neglect of care provided to a loved one in an Aged Care facility.
    The ACQ&SC also chose to finalize this matter with their report and subsequent response both a disgrace.
    I advised I was NOT satisfied with the pathetic response – they were not interested.
    ‘Why do they take this stance?’ you may ask. The answer is because they have failed and continue to do so. Saving face is the priority.

    IF, the ACQ&SC had been ensuring Quality and Safe Care was happening in the Aged Care sector a Royal Commission would NOT have been necessary.
    The Royal Commission findings determined widespread neglect and abuse was rife and remains so.

    I rest my case.

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