We received a call from our mother’s aged care facility around breakfast time one Friday that she was on her way to hospital after having breathing difficulties overnight. She passed away late the next day, in early November 2016. The emergency department doctors said the likely cause of her admission to hospital the day prior was “aspiration pneumonia”. (This condition occurs when food, saliva, liquids, or vomit is breathed into the lungs or airways leading to the lungs, instead of being swallowed into the oesophagus and stomach.)
Whether the issue be about showering, toileting, dental care, nail length and cleanliness, management of medical devices such as hearing aids, daily wound care or adequate movement to prevent pressure sores that can eventually be deadly, many families and residents have concerns about how hygiene and sanitation are managed in aged care facilities.
One NSW Central Coast family’s tragic story underscores the consequences of inattention to basic hygiene standards. [Warning: graphic image in this story.]
Have you or a loved one witnessed hygiene or sanitation issues in an aged care facility? How long was it before a family member of the resident concerned was made aware of the issue? How was the issue brought to the attention of the facility’s staff? What was the response? Did the matter have to be raised on more than one occasion? What were the consequences for the person receiving care? What other impacts were there? Was the situation so severe that the resident was moved to another facility?