Carer concerns branded ‘trouble-making’

My dealings with aged care began in 2008, firstly with home care, then in 2011 residential care as a carer.

The person I cared for had dementia, which meant I was his advocate.

I did not find the system easy to navigate and didn’t believe that many health professionals knew how to navigate it. I even went to my local member whose staff provided some obscure meaning for an EACH package – had nothing to do with the health system!

While my person was in residential care:

  • he was attacked by another patient
  • he had his walking stick taken from him by the nurse in charge
  • he had many falls
  • his hygiene was poor
  • he was lucky to be showered twice weekly
  • there was a lack of incontinence pads
  • he wasn’t fed well and lost 20 kgs in weight.

The home did not acknowledge me as a carer. I raised concerns with the facility & was branded a trouble maker. I contacted aged care complaints who were not interested and even wrote to the aged care commissioner. My concerns fell on deaf ears.

I still have all the documentation, it beggars belief that humans can treat other humans so poorly. My person had 26 falls in less than 12 months, yet there was never an answer.

I had to have my doctor come in to visit him as his care needs were not being met.

People who work their whole lives, contributing to the community, paying taxes are entitled to some respect.

It’s been six years since my person passed away and it seems as though not much is improving, particularly in residential homes.

I had another friend in care, who didn’t have dementia but was unable to walk. Each morning, staff would wake her up, pull off her nightgown, put her in a sling then position her over the toilet, naked for at least 20 minutes. She was a very private lady, not wishing to cause trouble.

Staff would talk about other staff and the clients in a demeaning way. Each time I visited she would be crying about the back-stabbing and bitchiness of the staff, as she was not like this. After speaking with her advocate, she moved to an improved care facility.

These are not isolated cases, as I am involved with a carer support group & do volunteer work. I have heard many of the dreadful stories. Management take the cream off the top, staff are paid minimal wages as not many of them have high qualifications.

Government funding is high but it’s how it is utilised once it goes to the facility.

Home Packages are similar, with the provider taking 40% before the client gets any services and if it’s not used, that money stays with the provider.

My advice is – read all documents, negotiate an improved deal, know what you’re getting and keep checking on your loved ones. If you think something isn’t right, then question it. With packages, ask even if it’s not listed – they can only say ‘no’.

It’s difficult to navigate but make use of all services, ask lots of questions as it will probably be you one day!

West Gippsland, Victoria