Barbara Spriggs leads the charge in aged care Royal commission

Headshot of Barbara Spriggs
Headshot of Barbara Spriggs

Barbara Spriggs doesn’t like offering criticism. Nonetheless, from the time her 66-year-old husband Bob entered the now infamous Oakden older person‘s mental health facility in South Australia she says she felt something was terribly wrong.

Oakden nursing home was one of the main catalysts for the announcement of the royal commission into aged care.

 It was like a prison

Today, on the first day of the hearings, the commission heard about accommodations that were like something from the 19th century. A bare, locked room with just a sheet to lie on. The commission heard that the toilet had no seat cover or even toilet paper. Worse, Mrs Briggs claims her husband was heavily drugged; in her opinion, to make him easier to manage by staff. She also claim to have seen other residents in a similar state of said that sedation. It was like a prison she said.

Prison like conditions

The commission heard that the toilet had no seat or even toilet paper. Worst, Mrs Briggs claims her husband was heavily drugged, in her opinion, to make him easier to manage by staff. She also claimed to have seen other residents in a similar state of said that sedation. It was like a prison she said.

Her husband suffered from Parkinsons  and dementia. It was suggested that he suffered extensive injuries due to being restrained, even needing to be rushed to hospital, but that no one in the management team or care team seemed to care. No reports were made to the government agencies and the police were never notified of what appeared to be abuse.

“To this day I don’t know what happened to Bob at Oakton”, Mrs Briggs said. Worse, she said she didn’t understand how that place could operate without anybody raising any alarms?

Support versus supervision

Ultimately, that is the real issue here. Are these facilities being supported and supervised in equal measure? Of course Oakton is an extreme examples of miss treatment but is this a reflection of all age care providers? Are facilities being supported and supervised in equal measure? Of course Oakden is an extreme example of mistreatment but is this a reflection of all age care providers?

Just as in the financial royal commission, where ASIC has been accused of not meeting its obligations, the aged care quality agency and the aged care complaints commission can expect to be scrutinised for their work. How could this happen under their watch?

Unfortunately, both these groups were disbanded by the federal government in 2018. That places another level of complexity on the role of the commission since they’re affectively investigating defunct bodies.

The new body that replaced them, the aged care quality and safety commission will also have to answer questions. However no one is quite sure whether representation from the now-defunct bodies will be compelled. Who will answer for what happened to Bob Spriggs?

 

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