A shocking new Lateline report was released recently by Margot O’Neill. It claims that there is an aged care ‘crisis’ in Australia. In fact, the news story claims “a critical lack of staff and training in some nursing homes”. Worse, the report claims that “many elderly people are being left to die unnecessarily or are in great pain without proper palliative care”.
people are being left to die unnecessarily
The story, presented by ABC journalist Emma Alberici, is shocking but stops short of naming the offending facilities. It further claims that the Government body responsible for monitoring aged care facilities, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, is failing in its duties. In fact, the report claims that the monitoring of standards of care in aged care facilities “isn’t working”. Worse, the story claims that complaints raised through the Federal Government’s age care complaints scheme resulted in “bullying by the nursing home”.
they do not name the facilities
Shocking claims of mistreatment
Some of the shocking ‘crisis’ claims made include these examples from the daughter of a resident, Belinda Daly, who kept a journal;
“… Mum couldn’t stop crying, said a nurse had been cranky with her …”. “… Mum found covered in nits …”. “… Mum’s nappy wasn’t changed from 9.30 am until 7.10 pm …”. “… Mum always getting cuts, bruises, skin tears, head lice, conjunctivitis, cold sores, mouth ulcers, urine infections …”.
Painfully, the programme features interviews with family members in tears. It is clear that they are heartbroken at what they saw their elderly loved ones go through. However, the porogramme does not name the offending facilities. Unfortunately, this leaves the viewer wondering whether most, or only a very few, facilities are to blame.
Does this constitute a ‘crisis’ in aged care?
The report does claim that they can cite “many other recent cases” of abuse, such as people left to lie in their own faeces & urine. Other examples include elderly residents not given sufficient medication, being manhandled or left underfed. Worse, some claim family members were left to become dehydrated or were verbally abused. Incredibly, the report even states that some residents were left in a coma, or with untreated broken bones or infections.
Does this constitute a crisis in aged care?
These claims are shocking. Furthermore, if proven accurate, these facilities and cases require thorough investigation and censure. Sadly, similar cases of abuse of vulnerable elderly people in care across Australia and the world are probably still happening every day. However, does this constitute a ‘crisis’ in aged care? Is it possible that Landline is sensationalising the shocking experiences of some individuals? Are they misrepresenting isolated incidents as an endemic, industry-wide problem?
Is this, in fact, the indication of a “national human rights emergency”? This is the claim the report makes, citing advocacy groups. After all, there are over 200,000 people living in Australian aged care facilities. Do these cases represent a bigger problem?
Some residents were left in a coma, with untreated broken bones or raging infections.
Landline claims they do, referencing reports by The AMA, The Nursing Federation and Palliative Care Australia. Specifically, The AMA report claims insufficient numbers of doctors leads to limited care. Similarly, The Nursing Federation report claims insufficient numbers of properly trained carers compounds the problem. Finally, Palliative Care Australia’s report claims “only one in five residents receives proper palliative care”.
You can see the original Lateline report here.