Aged care resident 'left in dirty nappies'

Aged care resident 'left in dirty nappies'


Aged Care Royal Commission
Life in residential aged care means no choice, says 84-year-old Merle Mitchell.

Life in residential aged care means no choice, says 84-year-old Merle Mitchell.

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Eresha Dassanayake washes dried faeces from her mother's hands nearly everyday at a NSW residential aged care facility. Ms Dassanayake told a hearing of the a...

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Eresha Dassanayake washes dried faeces from her mother's hands nearly everyday at a NSW residential aged care facility.

Ms Dassanayake told a hearing of the aged care royal commission in Sydney she believes her mother is left in a dirty nappy for long enough that the 87-year-old, although bedridden, tries to remove it herself.

"Whoever tries to change her eventually, they're not washing her hands," Ms Dassanayake said on Monday.

"I find her hands covered in faeces every day."

Her mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, was first moved into an aged care facility in 2015.

Ms Dassanayake told the inquiry her mother became "dopey" after being given opioid patches and Panadol Osteo at the same time at one home.

When Ms Dassanayake was sick and unable to visit her mother for several days in July 2017, she discovered upon her return her mum was barely able to talk.

"This was a woman, who a week before, was walking around with her walker," the witness told the hearing.

The elderly resident was taken to hospital where doctors discovered she was severely dehydrated and had pressure sores because she hadn't been out of bed for up to five days.

Overall, she lost 19 kilograms in less than 12 months.

"I didn't think she'd make it through ... I stopped everything and decided I had to be with her at least three times a day," Ms Dassanayake said.

The commission also heard on Monday from Merle Mitchell who recalled the loss she felt moving into a Melbourne residential aged care facility.

"There's just that feeling that this isn't a proper life ... (you're) told this is your home now ... well it's not, it's an institution," the 84-year-old told the inquiry.

"There's this feeling that the quicker it's all over, the better it is for everybody."

Ms Mitchell said staff don't have time to support residents and, as a result, she's watched many lose their cognitive abilities.

The elderly woman believes all aged care facilities should have counsellors available for residents and staff and the carer-to-resident ratios need to be improved.

The commission heard shocking evidence of incontinence pads being rationed at another Melbourne facility.

Darryl Melchhart revealed that at one stage residents were limited to three pads a day.

The 90-year-old recalled when a friend couldn't attend one of the facility's social activities because she was left in "wet pads".

Ms Melchhart said she also feared for her safety because some residents with dementia become "vicious".

"This one woman came up and tried to take my walker away, I hung onto it and she starts hammering on my hands like mad," Ms Melchhart said.

The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner received nearly 24,000 complaints of substandard care in residential aged homes between June 2012 and December 2018, counsel assisting the commission Peter Gray said.

The Sydney hearings continue until Wednesday.

Australian Associated Press

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