Neglect rife in aged care facilities

Aged care workers believe they are unable to provide the level of care residents deserve.

Neglect rife in Aged care facilities

Due to widespread budget cuts, aged care workers believe they are unable to provide the level of care residents deserve in aged care facilities and nursing homes.

Esther Priol who works at an aged care facility in Sydney's west, is just one of many aged care workers fed up with the rationing to save money and the constant neglect being shown by the large operators.

“We have been told we have been spending too much money on pads," Ms Priol said. "Unless they are 75 per cent wet, then the rule is we don't change them.

According to the SMH, aged care provider Bupa outlined in a memo a protocol for sticking to the continence "pad quota" which is running "over budget". 

NSW Health Services Union Secretary Gerald Hayes believes $3 billion in federal budget cuts since 2013 has put aged care residents in serious jeopardy. The evidence of these effects is shown in a study published in the Nutrition and Dietetics Journal in July, which shows the decrease in the amount of money spent per resident per day from $6.34 to $6.08 between July 2014 and June 2016.

"When our members are told they have to ration out sanitary pads or keep food budgets under $6 a day, you know something is seriously crook," Mr Hayes said.

"As a society, we need to ask why we shower praise and reward on the CEOs of major corporations like banks, while we push aged care workers to their physical and emotional breaking point," he said.

Aged care worker Marta Ordenes has reported similar frustrations to Ms Priol with concerns about the dignity of the aged care residents.

Mr Ordenes said her facility is usually staffed with just five full-time carers and one registered nurse to care for almost 70 aged care residents. Staffing levels remained the same despite the needs of residents increasing.

"They call and call and want help to go to the toilet and we can't get there in time. It's not a nice feeling for them or for us," said Ms Ordenes.

"Most of them have nobody but us and we can't even take 10 to 15 minutes to take them for a walk and just talk to them.

"To spend time with them, you have to do it on your break, but sometimes we don't even have time to have a break. We need more staff to give them decent care and their dignity."

What do you think? Should the Federal Government be reviewing the state of aged care in Australia and setting clearer standards for staff to patient ratios? Have you or a loved one experienced the neglect that’s being reported?



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    17th Oct 2017
    Its no surprise that our federal government cares the least about the elderly and vulnerable in our country. They have demonstrated this time and time again with cuts to those areas that need help most. Elderly are neglected and people on low incomes hit hard withenergy bill hikes and penalty rates cut. Add to that the disgusting mess at centrelink and you have a reflection of their priorities
    17th Oct 2017
    The Lieberals care only about the rich, and to hell with everyone else. They're beancounters.
    17th Oct 2017
    I think, from experience/observation that it's worse than that, Ella - and the prevailing attitude across the board is that these old fogies have had their time and are too much trouble to keep going in comfort.

    I was appalled when the ex's aged mother-in-law had bed sores - she was mobile the last time I saw her so what gives? Restraints at night?

    I think it is the worst crime available to ill-treat or mis-treat those who cannot protect or defend themselves and who are in your CARE. Even police, who are often the thugs in a 'fight', have a better theoretical concept of 'custody' than that.
    17th Oct 2017
    On that ma-in-law - being demented to some degree does not mean you are immobile or should be, but I had no say there...... I'm the outsider.
    17th Oct 2017
    Mayby they find it hard to vote so they are worth nothing to the goverment
    17th Oct 2017
    Well, remember Hockey a multi millionaire, called disabled rorters whislt he himself was rorting the travel allowance not one but several allowances of $288 a night that he used to pay off a Canberra destroy the retirement plans of anyone who worked and saved for their retirement. Bishop spent $30000 flying VIP to attend a dog and pony show, and then gives hundreds of millions in foreign aid, many to muslim countries that hate and want to destory us. Turnbull is determined to destroy our banking system, that kept our economy safe during the great GFC. eventually stealing $6.9 billion. How much ended up in hid own back pocket. Its all about fill your own back pockets, steal, lie, cheat, 27 trips to the Gold Coast on taxpayer expense to buy a personal investment property. NO WONDER THERE IS NO MONEY FOR OUR ELDERLY.
    ray @ Bondi
    17th Oct 2017
    That is the real problem, no COMPASSION or EMPATHY, liberal philosophy is to take from the poor and give to the rich.
    17th Oct 2017
    Yes it is criminal to hear of these CEO's and high profile people asking for and getting these ridiculously high salaries and incentives - which they do not need as their normal pay packets are huge anyway. This money could go into the aged care sector and give those who have have worked hard all their lives, the extra benefits they need now.
    17th Oct 2017
    If you think that slashing the salaries of CEOs in private companies and other high profile people will result in increased funding to aged care you have to be dreaming!
    17th Oct 2017
    Just tax the bastards properly...... no more free rides in any way.
    17th Oct 2017
    About time families took responsibility and helped look after oldies
    I looked after my father till he was almost 97 Of course he had a very positive attitude but I see oldies in Nursing homes who with some support could stay home.
    They looked after you when you needed it now do your bit ... Too selfish by far...
    17th Oct 2017
    Agreed Virginia.
    It was always the responsibility of the children to look after their parents when they were older and sometimes also disabled relatives, it was expected by both generations.
    Something has gone badly wrong when children not only ignore helping their elderly parents but can't wait to put them into a nursing home or to inherit any assets the parents may have.
    It is a disgrace.
    17th Oct 2017
    Well if someone gets into a nursing home that means they need a lot of support and full time care might then require a loss of one partners income . In these times of high rent, mortgages and soaring bills a loss of income may just not be realistic. Some elderly people just dont have suitable or appropriate family to step in . Its hard to judge if you don't walk in others shoes. I might add i worked in aged care for many years. Theres not a simple solution always.
    17th Oct 2017
    Well - I'm carer for my ex (just had a day visit to hospie meself), and even though she makes it tough at times, she is well aware that without me there is no other real option.

    Her children are busy - her daughter does home care for hours in a day and often nights and her sons both run their own businesses and their spouses work as well ... not easy to get time or energy.
    18th Oct 2017
    I wanted to care for my mother, but she insisted on going into aged care. She had sacrificed years to care for her aging mother and she would not let me do the same. Furthermore, she knew she would not be comfortable in my home. We are different. She didn't like the décor or our lifestyle habits. No fault or criticism on either side. It's just the way it was. And she didn't want me to give up my job as she understood that would compromise our financial security in retirement. We chose the best aged care we could find, and overall it was fair to good - but in her last days when she needed intensive care they let us down badly. I found her one day swimming in poo and it took 20 minutes of my extreme tantrums to get someone to attend to her properly.

    I can't blame anyone for not caring for their aged relative. Sometimes it's really difficult, or just unworkable. I agree more families should try, and the load on the government could be reduced, but there is no excuse for cutting funding to the point where the aged are not able to get proper care.
    20th Oct 2017
    I spent two years working in a nursing home and watched the tragedy of exhausted relatives at the end of their tether, no longer able to care for a loved one at home, yet still feeling guilty.
    I also endured the difficulty of coming on for the night shift and finding there weren't enough kylies (water-absorbing undersheets) for the night - this was the norm.
    I wrote to the then Federal Minister for Health, Peter Staples, outlining how funding cuts were bad for staff and residents. All the registered nurses signed it. The reply was patronising, basically saying we didn't know what we were talking about.
    Registered nurses were routinely hours late off duty because to work to rule would have meant staying most of the shift at the desk, satisfying the government's requirement for paperwork. That's not nursing - most of us spent time in the wards supervising and assisting with resident care, the doing paperwork in our own time. Ask for overtime? You're joking...
    There's a high staff turnover in nursing homes: people burn out under these conditions.

    17th Oct 2017
    The owners of nursing homes are greedy, rapacious, neglectful bastards. I was in three nursing homes for about two weeks each last year. The loneliness (I was one of the few residents not suffering from dementia) and noise was terrible. I wouldn't wish nursing-home residence on my worst enemy!
    17th Oct 2017
    I agree. No amount of funding will stop the culture that is in many not all nursing homes. If I could not care for an elderly person in a nursing home correctly with care and consideration with the money they get per resident I would stand hanging. it should be an essential service not a business
    17th Oct 2017
    This uncaring government needs to be taught that CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME!
    ray @ Bondi
    17th Oct 2017
    the liberal DNA is showing again.
    17th Oct 2017
    My Mother died in a Nursing Home. Reason: Fell of Bath Chair smashed her head on the floor. Due to only one attendant with her instead of two. Nothing much done about her death even from the coroner.
    ray @ Bondi
    17th Oct 2017
    my condolences, sadly no government cares, the politicians have thier snouts firmly in the trough and resent anything that may threaten there excess.
    17th Oct 2017
    I hope that floor wasn't a staff iron fist to an 'out-of-control' prisoner.............................
    17th Oct 2017
    The above is the exact reason my wife, who was a nurse for over 50 years (and worked in nursing homes in at least 4 states), promised her mother that she would look after her and would not let her go into a nursing home. My MiL is 94 and is getting to the stage of requiring full time nursing care. Mum's care is shared with my Brother-in-Law and his wife ( about 4 to 6 months at a time for each family) so we do have some respite. Nevertheless it is extremely hard for all of us in our 70s but what are we to do, condemn Mum to a living hell in a nursing home. My MiL is a war widow so we do receive a lot of material help from DVA, DVA is generous and has outfitted both our houses for Mum.
    My wife tells that some nursing homes are excellent and put the residents first but too many are profit generators where resident welfare is the least consideration. The best she has seen are the facilities run by the RSL so if it becomes too much for us then the RSL will be the first choice.
    17th Oct 2017
    Eddy, my MIL went kicking and screaming to RSL care. A week later she said it was like being in a residential hotel. The safety decreased her stress levels. She liked it there and had a further two years. We were very impressed with the food and care she received.
    17th Oct 2017
    Shocking stories about care homes have been reported repeatedly over many years and nothing has been done about it, if possible, it's getting worse.
    Bad and sometimes inhumane treatment in care homes happen because they are hopelessly understaffed. I don't know why they're understaffed, I thought legislation required them to be staffed enough to give quality care.
    There are assessors, I'm sure, so they are the ones that are not doing their job properly.
    17th Oct 2017
    Simple solution for the elderly looking at entering an aged care facility. Go find someone that really pisses you off and kill them. You will then be provided with free aged care for all your needs, for the rest of your life. If you can't think of anyone, go for a politician.

    17th Oct 2017
    read the comments of most of the contributors to this topic, it shows the true nature of the me, me contributors to these columns, very few have the ability to just acknowledge a true passion of what they realy owe their parents, comments such as we all work and have no time to look after our parents shows the real attitude of our now so called modern society, I take my hat off for the likes of Trebor who can find the time to look after his ex mother in law, yet her own children can't find the time to help out or looking at the comment of mike, is this our labor micky's alibi, a total useless comment in regard to the subject or from ray, no compassion or emphathy, where were you ray when your parents needed assistance, probable stood in the bank queue to get your inheritance yet then again how great to read the possitive comment of Virginia how true her comment in regard to the selfish attitude of to-days generation and as for poly wants a cracker, the less said the better, what an ignorant, selfish, uneducated, self opinionated and hateful creature it is, not worth to be called a human being!
    18th Oct 2017
    Jeez heemskerk, just say it, don't spray it. I dread to think what sort of mayhem you'd create if someone actually got up your nose.
    Your blandishments by way of selective opinion re a number of the contributions bears little by way of subject matter, which as I read it thereby renders you guilty of the very traits that you condemn others for.
    By whose determination does anybody "owe their parents" - yours ? Dare I suggest that if your apparent conviction is evident by your heartfelt comment then whoever you support - given the benefit of the doubt here - is extremely fortunate. I'd like to think the folk you've denigrated are more than worthy of being human, replete with all our many failings.

    The aged care sector is little different to all/any business in that they exist to supply a service and in so doing fully expect to turn a profit. To be sure, some scrimp and pinch pennies but to my knowledge the doors are not locked and 'guests' are not prisoners. Regardless of what value anyone believes SHOULD be provided unless the individual - or someone on behalf of - 'in care' clients/patients is prepared to foot the bill or pay for 'extras' then it seems little the govt can do other than requesite oversight re standards.
    18th Oct 2017
    Heemskerk99, there are valid reasons why many can't care for their aging parents, and there are many aged who have nobody to care for them. But society OWES the elderly. They have contributed to society, and they are owed a debt and the taxpayer should pay it.
    Today's taxpayers will, in turn, need to collect their dues when they are old.

    The capitalist society works on the principle that people contribute more to it than they are paid during their working life, so that businesses can profit from hiring labour. It is essential, then, that taxpayers who benefit from capitalism fund social services to compensate those who give to make the capitalist system viable. We should not be thinking tax cuts are a good thing. We should be focused on ensuring that those who profit under the capitalist system pay their due to fund social services that ensure the ongoing health of society and the well-being of those who supply labour to make the capitalist system workable.

    The problem with today's society is GREED. Yes, individual greed is a problem, but the greed of the wealthy and the way government indulges the selfish is a far greater problem. Let's stop attacking individuals whose circumstances we know nothing of, and start demanding the government make social changes that improve the health and well-being of society as a whole.
    18th Oct 2017
    You are so right Rainey, greed is a worldwide problem. Been reading Bernie Sanders book and he writes that Waltons who own Wal-Mat are the richest family in the USA, but their workers are so lowly paid they all use social services to survive, ie'; food stamps, subsidised housing, and health care. If they paid their workers more it would be better for the economy. Same could happen in Australia if welfare and pensions was increased, it would mean more spending, more jobs and better economy. The maybe aged care can have the staff they need to provide a better and safer service.
    19th Oct 2017
    I agree, musicveg. Money needs to circulate for the capitalist economy to survive. I read a book last week in which the author explained the reasons why capitalism is doomed - and it comes down to greed. He says the flow of wealth to the top is way too fast now. From 15 people owning half the world's wealth a few years ago, it's now down to 5, and in a couple of years it will be just 1. Capitalism cannot continue with this rapid transfer of wealth to the top end, because with the transfer of wealth comes the transfer of power and an increase in anger at the bottom end, where people are powerless and hungry. We've seen it in Brexit. We are seeing it in some elections. It can only get worse. A sensible government would raise pensions substantially, lower the retirement age, increase aid to the unemployed and sick, improve education and health and aged services, subsidize electricity, increase taxes at the top end and do away with all the loopholes that let people dodge their obligations, tax multinational companies heavily, and reduce taxes at the lower end. That would get the economy back to health and, more importantly, restore social health and personal well-being.

    The author explains how those who claim individual effort determines wealth are wrong. The capitalist economy limits the capacity of people to grow in much the same way as a bonsai grower limits the plant's growth capacity. The space available to grow is generally determined at birth, by the circumstances into which a person is born. The well-to-do have extensive space to grow their wealth. The poor have very little space, and no matter how hard they try, they can't expand beyond those boundaries set by psychological disadvantage, educational disadvantage, often health disadvantage, and disadvantage resulting from lack of access to mentoring, guidance and support from people with powerful connections.

    We can all quote cases of ''rags to riches'', and people born on the ''wrong side of the tracks'' who have been successful, but they are few and far between and there are almost always undisclosed factors that expanded the space to grow that are simply not present in most circumstances. It may have been just extraordinary talent, but something is different in these cases. In many cases, the disadvantage was falsely claimed and never really existed (e.g. Malcolm Turnbull - who claims he was ''disadvantaged'' by being the child of a single parent, but forgets to mention his father was filthy rich and he inherited hundreds of millions).
    19th Oct 2017
    Heemskerk99, your statement is illogical. Think about it a little. Are you suggesting one or more family members should care for their aged parent? So they should give up work? Who cares for the parent during the day if they don't?

    If they give up work, how do they support themselves? The pension the aged parent receives is hardly enough to compensate a family member for quitting their job to be a carer. So the government pays a carer allowance? Yes. And that likely costs as much or more than providing decent aged care in homes. But the cost doesn't end there. The carer allowance is likely much less than the family member was earning so instead of adding to their superannuation, they are now raiding their savings to get by, so in retirement they will draw a higher part pension or a full pension instead of maybe being substantially or fully self-supporting. And what happens when the aged parent dies. The carer wants to return to work but we all know how hard it is for older people to get a job, so they then go on Newstart and then they are really drawing heavily on their savings. So now they impose an even greater demand on the pension system in retirement. Ultimately, the cost is WAY higher than simply funding proper aged care for all.

    I do think the criteria for admission to care could be tightened such that families are required to provide a little more support for moderately able aged folk who could stay at home if they had regular visitors checking on them and helping with more difficult household chores. But once they need extensive care, an aged care home is most likely the best solution - but it MUST be properly funded and regulated to ensure the care is high quality. The current situation is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE.

    Bottom line is the rich and privileged in this society, and the government, want to eat their cake and have it to, and they are peddling stupid simplistic ''solutions'' that can never work, without thinking through the implications of their nonsense proposals.

    There is NO viable alternative to taxing the well-off to provide the social services needed to keep a capitalist society healthy. Until the government recognizes this basic fact and responds sensibly, we will continue to have increasing social problems, broad discontent, and a deteriorating economy.

    We should NEVER speak of reducing taxes as a good thing. Simplify the system, yes. Reduce tax? NO! We need to increase taxes but spread the burden fairly - eliminating the loopholes and prosecuting the cheats. We need more money flowing into government and SPENT to raise pensions, improve health care and aged care, improve education, improve community services, and provide better support for the sick, disabled, and otherwise disadvantaged (including unemployed and low income earning families). This is the ONLY way to economic and social health. The extra spending by those at the bottom end will stimulate economic growth. Trickle down DOES NOT WORK. Tricke UP does!
    17th Oct 2017
    Really sad when profit overrides decent caring for elderly. There needs to be a standard set by the Government and more investigation into who is actually running the aged care places, are they really experienced and trained enough? Also if the carers payment was better maybe more people would be able to afford to quit work and look after their parents in old age.
    17th Oct 2017
    Aged Care Facilities know in advance when Govt. assessments and inspections are going to be done. I know that from when a relative of mine was in one.
    18th Oct 2017
    Experiencing this first hand currently (with my dad in dementia care) & it is apalling what is expected of carers & from upper level management! Accreditation is a joke as is Aged Care Complaints Commission who are obviously working in cahoots with the care facilities & I've witnessed first hand lies (by manager) being believed by Regional Director & ACCC!

    There needs to be major reform & a legal ratio of carers to resident numbers & that's just the beginning, otherwise I dread how things will be when we need these facilties ourselves! We are currently supporting staff here in a stand-down/walk off in relation to these disgraceful goings on & on top of conditions changing for residents they also need to change for Carers as it's impossible for them to do their designated job role of CARING when they are seeing positions axed or merged from 2 to 1 & the likes all in the name of profit for these greedy & shameful businesses & their CEO's & managers or shareholders. These Carers also deserve a fairer wage as they are being severely underpaid for the hard unpaid extra hours they are doing on top of their shift just to make sure residents are comfortabe!

    Makes me angry & I wont apologize ..

    18th Oct 2017
    Same experiences.
    19th Oct 2017
    I think anyone who is aware of the disgusting circumstances going on in nursing homes, and still decides to place their elderly parent in one, is beyond contempt.
    21st Oct 2017
    I think they should have cameras in nursing homes to pick up neglect and abuse
    21st Oct 2017
    My dear mother who passed away recently at the age of 95 was in care for 3 plus years. Mum was in a Brightwater facility in Joondalup Perth and she had excellent care. Brightwater is the old Home of Peace not for profit. I am sure it prolonged her life even though she slept a lot towards the end.
    21st Oct 2017
    Sorry to hear of your mum, but sounds like Not For Profit care homes would be much better, I think we need more of them rather than running like a business that only cares about profit.

    22nd Oct 2017
    I read a report recently that up to half of all people in residential aged care may have symptoms of depression, which is three times the estimated rate in elderly people living in the community and it’s of great concern that sometimes these symptoms are easily confused with other conditions such as dementia.

    We have wonderful organisations such the RSPCA to protect our animals, yet similar organisations to protect the elderly seem to be thin on the ground. It’s a sad reality that many of our elderly would rather choose euthanasia over having to spend the rest of their remaining years at some of these homes.

    The heartless penny pinchers who run some of the homes ought to be named and shamed and yes, it is time for the Federal government to be heavily involved. My congratulations go to the handful of staff who have the courage to speak out about what some residents experience.

    Nan Norma
    6th Nov 2017
    Well, what a society we have become. We now send our babies into care and our elderly too. The government has socially engineered our society so that women have to go out to work but ignoring the fact that there will be no one to care for the elderly, or the children when they are sick or have school holidays.
    6th Nov 2017
    Yes, I feel it is sad when we have to force women back to work single mothers especially. But it does not have to be the women who can care for everyone men can do a great job too. But someone has to bring in the dollars because our Government won't support anyone who wants to stay at home. And this has also contributed to loss of jobs for the young coming out of school and more dissatisfied youth who look for other mean to entertain themselves. Children who grow up in childcare have less attention, therefore more behavioral issues in the long run, more sickness through spreading of germs, and more learning problems. Babies need to be with a parent and elderly should be cared for by family if it is not something that is too difficult. I know my mum tried so hard to look after my dad who had dementia but in the end got too much for her.