Young punished in a place they don’t belong
Kirby Littley was 28 when she had a stroke affecting both sides of her brain and ended up in a nursing home in Victoria, a place she described as being totally uninterested in her.
The former teacher, who worked with students at a special school, describes times when staff were rude to her, ignored her and, in some cases, punished her by removing her communication board, the only way she could speak with another human.
“They didn’t really want to deal with me,” Ms Littley told The Australian yesterday. “They took my board away because they didn’t do what I wanted, and didn’t listen to me.”
Her mother Carol Littley, also a teacher, said the family was suffering what she described as posttraumatic stress disorder. “It wasn’t just what we saw happen with Kirby, but with other residents at the home as well,” she said.
“There was a real culture of secrecy and of bullying, not just of residents but of the staff who were actually kind and nice to people there.”
While Kirby was in the home for rehabilitation, she was occasionally prevented from going to her sessions because she had “chucked a tantrum” and was being punished, her mother said. “I’d go home at night and just cry wondering what was going to happen next and what we would do.”
Kirby is one of 23 young people in nursing homes who have received a housing allowance under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Together with money from a home she owned before her illness, she has bought an apartment where she will soon be able to live independently.
More than 6000 young people with disabilities are in nursing homes. The NDIS has given support to 2749, and 173 have been rejected. A further 3600 are waiting to be assessed.
Only 23 have access to specialist disability accommodation funding to allow them to find homes outside of aged care.
David Carey, 55, had a stroke and has been in a nursing home for a year now. He says it is “too long” to be in an area with older people who have advanced dementia. “You come in here and the solution is just medication, medication, medication and you think, surely there must be more to life.”
Culture of secrecy and bullying: Stroke victim Kirby Littley with parents Kevin and Carol