Aged care resident 'dehydrated, delirious'

'I was stunned that could happen': Aged resident 'dehydrated to the point of delirium'

Aged Care Royal Commission
Judith King has given evidence at Hobart hearings of the royal commission into aged care.

Judith King has given evidence at Hobart hearings of the royal commission into aged care.

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Judith King has given evidence at Hobart hearings of the royal commission into aged care.

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AT AN aged care home in northern Tasmania, Judith King's husband became dehydrated to the point of delirium.

Professor Neville King, 72, a psychologist specialising in cognitive behaviour who was honoured last year as an Officer of the Order of Australia, was diagnosed eight years ago with Huntington's disease

He moved into Glenara Lakes home at Launceston in July last year when Mrs King could no longer care for him because of her ill-health.

Mrs King on Tuesday told a royal commission into aged care she brought her husband to a specialist after noticing on a visit he was anxious and disorientated.

"(The specialist) identified acute delirium due to acute dehydration," Mrs King said.

"I was stunned that that could happen."

Mrs King, herself a health professional and previous assistant director at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital, then put up a fluid chart in Neville's room.

"It took 11 days with me haranguing management as to why the chart hadn't been started,'' she told the hearing in Hobart.

"I was going in every day because he was desperately thirsty.

"By the time I would get in there at four, five o'clock, I would give him up to a litre, litre and a half because the fluid chart wasn't completed."

Mrs King noted her husband's condition quickly deteriorated after he moved into Glenara Lakes and within two weeks he was not walking properly.

She questioned whether her husband was receiving medication after noticing he was agitated and uncooperative on a weekly trip to the cinema in August.

"I was assured that the nurse had given him those medications at 4.30pm and he had done it personally,'' she said.

"I said to him 'Well that's interesting because I took Neville out at three. He wasn't there and the drugs were signed for'."

Mrs King raised her issues at several levels but said she wasn't properly listened to by staff and was left feeling intimidated by managers.

The aged care inquiry is this week examining governance at Glenara Lakes and another Southern Cross Care facility - Yaraandoo Hostel - in Tasmania.

Mrs King hoped her evidence would contribute to change in the sector.

"I've been very sick. I don't know if I'll outlive my husband," she said.

"We're a little family of two. Neville won't have an advocate if I'm gone."

Australian Associated Press

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