FOLLOWING shocking claims of maggots found in a patient's head wound at an aged care facility on the NSW South Coast, a Queensland facility has been accused of covering up similar incidents.
A staff member* of a Brisbane facility operated by Opal Aged Care claims two separate incidents have occurred and not been reported in the past two years.
In an exclusive, the staff member told The Senior one elderly man had a leg wound infested with maggots while another had a maggot-infested penis.
"Nothing was done following the penis incident, but after the leg incident they bought blue bug zappers and put them around," the staffer said. "So nothing was really done; it was just swept under the rug.
"It's past horrible."
According to the staff member, the residents' families were not notified.
"The penis incident happened because he hadn't had his pad changed in 48 hours. Pads should be changed every eight hours, at least.
"The leg happened because the resident had cellulitis leg wounds, so his legs were wrapped in bandages.
"The facility is understaffed, which meant not enough time for proper care."
The staff member also alleged that staff not qualified for the role were used to perform carers' duties, and that other disturbing incidents had occurred at the facility.
"We don't have enough time to give proper care already. We don't have time to toilet residents or give them enough to drink on our shift."
"A lady's finger tips needed to be amputated because registered staff ignored care staffs' pleas that her hand was infected."
The staff member said the company had notified staff that hours will be cut because the facility is changing staff-resident ratios.
"Things will get worse because care staff are already understaffed and pressed for time.
"We don't have enough time to give proper care already. We don't have time to toilet residents or give them enough to drink on our shift.
"With the reduced hours, I worry how many of our residents are going to suffer.
"The company is more worried about money in its own pocket and not resident care."
A spokesperson from Opal Aged Care said the operator was unable to comment on allegations.
Indicator of substandard care
The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association has called for more to be done to protect aged care residents.
"Maggot-infested wounds are an indicator of substandard nursing home care," policy manager Paul Versteege said.
"Understaffing and inadequately qualified staffing are usually the cause of substandard care, when nursing homes try to cut down on their biggest expense: staff salaries and wages.
"To prevent understaffing in nursing homes we need minimum staffing levels to be regulated. We also need to ensure that nursing homes can afford the salaries and wages that go with those staffing levels."
Mr Versteege also took aim at BUPA, the operator in charge of a NSW facility where a man was recently hospitalised with maggots in a head wound.
“Nine out of 70 Australian BUPA nursing homes are currently under sanctions. The question is: why is BUPA allowed as an aged care provider at all?”
He called for the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to take action and for residents and prospective residents to vote with their feet. He also urged residents and their families to remain vigilant.
*The staff member requested their name not be used.