NT News

Dirty nursing home secrets

- NATASHA BITA

NURSING home residents are being left lying in urine or breaking bones after falls due to short staffing, aged care workers have revealed.

More than 2000 aged care staff have dobbed in shortstaff­ed nursing homes and revealed harrowing cases of neglect, using a new online whistleblo­wing tool, Aged Care Watch, launched by the United Workers Union.

“In my section there is a resident who falls multiple times with a fracture in his neck and when his sensor goes off we are told to run,’’ a worker in a South Australian nursing home said.

“(The resident) needs a oneon-one (carer) but management will not pay for a staff member.

“The resident had five falls last night and displays aggressive behaviour late in the evening.

“I am on my own for two hours attending to call bells and assisting residents to bed and trying to do my documentat­ion and cleaning up the kitchen.’’

A care assistant in Queensland has warned that ongoing understaff­ing means residents are missing out on quality care.

“Residents left in a saturated bed for more than a day at a time,’’ the worker said.

“I have been working numerous shifts on my own for five to six hours before I get staff coming in to help.’’

UWU aged care director Carolyn Smith said workers’ stories were “heartbreak­ing’’.

“They are exposing the dirty secrets of aged care, and it’s not a pretty picture,” Ms Smith said.

In Tasmania, a staff member described one nursing home as a “comfortabl­e prison’’.

“It’s become a comfortabl­e prison with wardens attending each cell (room) using hoists or assisting in personal care, then breakfast and moving them on to medication and having lunch then placing residents into bed,’’ the carer said.

Staff in a NSW nursing home reported that cleaning was substandar­d, with “lack of infection control, and poor pain management with residents who are suffering’’.

A Victorian carer said she worked a shift that was so short of staff that frail residents were unable to go to the toilet or take a shower.

Ms Smith urged friends and family members of nursing home residents to report any abuse using the app.

Neglect and abuse should also be reported to police and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Federal parliament will debate nursing home staff levels after independen­t South Australian Senator Rex Patrick introduced a private members’ Bill this week to mandate at least one nurse in aged care facilities at all times.

“Currently in Australia, there is no nationwide requiremen­t for nursing homes to have a registered nurse on duty at all times,” Senator Patrick said. “I’m concerned aged care residents are not getting the care they need.’’

The royal commission into aged care recommende­d all aged care homes hire a nurse 24/7 by July 2024.

But the senator said residents could not wait three years for “the care they deserve’’.

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