‘She tells me she wants to die’: aged-care horror stories

AGED care residents in Townsville have been found by family members caked in faeces, screaming in agony wishing for death and neglected by facility staff, a Royal Commission has heard.

Heartbroken relatives of current and former Townsville aged care residents revealed horrific cases of neglect during a Royal Commission into Aged Care forum.

One woman, who asked not to be named, told the commission she fought tooth and nail for her mother's aged care facility to do better but instead found the elderly woman sometimes caked in faeces, wearing soiled diapers or left in bed until the afternoon.

The woman said she had once asked staff multiple times to give her mother stronger medication when she complained of back pain, but was ignored.

She then found her mother lying across the bed, legs dangling, screaming in pain and saying she wanted to die. After being rushed to the hospital, doctors found she had a broken back.

Retired registered nurse Anne Rinkin, who worked at nursing homes during her career, has been on both sides of the fence.

Ms Rinkin, 74, receives home care and feels she has lost her dignity.

"I find that there is a lack of respect, a lack of care. A lot of the carers are told 'get in, get out, don't talk'," she said.

"I keep getting (different) carers all the time."

One speaker told the commission she believed her father's death in an aged care facility in 2017 was premature, and after battling bureaucracy to ensure the facility was investigated, she found out a year later an audit had deemed its standards inadequate.

"Although frail and needing assistance, they are much-cherished family members and must be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve," she said.

A man, whose mother lives in a not-for-profit aged care facility in the region, said the facility was often understaffed, lacked procedures, and was driven by economics, not care.

"I don't know when it was in this country that a decision was made that our oldest citizens that have contributed so much to this country are burdens on the society," he said.

"Almost every time I visit my mother, she just tells me she wants to die. Sadly, I agree with her sentiments."

The man said he would much sooner die than go into aged care himself, and was watching the State Government's inquiry into voluntary euthanasia with interest.

He said on occasions the meals at the home would be made up of party pies or undercooked vegetables.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has been criticised for holding a forum in Townsville instead of a multi-day hearing as it has in other cities.


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