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Libby Thomas

Ageing, A Question Of Dignity?!

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I'm Libby Thomas & I'm writing this article because I've recently had the unfortunate experience of having to put my beautiful mother into 'Aged Care' after a fall last October. This has been a myriad of emotions & decisions that would put the fear into the heart of Methuselah.

We begin with the process of Ambulance from home, where the fall took place, to hospital, treatment & communications all going well so far, mother is improving. Then comes the rehab facility, until mother has another fall then gets pneumonia which sets her back big time. Of course she's in there to re establish her health, ambulance & balance in preparation to be sent home, but the physio's bully these patients, so mother gets her back up & therefore, she doesn't get released home, she is sent to a TCP (Transient Care) facility. She is now walking with a 'walker' which assists her balance & stability.

This (TCP) facility is run by the Catholic Church & provides permanent beds with a ratio of 6 TCP beds out of 40. I chose this place because it was in familiar territory.
Within weeks of mother arriving there she has a fall, sent back to hospital, then contracts gastro upon her arriving back at the facility, this can can be fatal in elderly people.
The facility is run with PCA's & one registered nurse per shift & I sometimes noticed very dubious cleaning & sanitary issues in the place which of course I reported to management. Up until this time our efforts to talk with a caseworker was met with a lackadaisical grunt. Poor mother, by this time she is in such a weakened state that the PCA's are trying to tell us that she is 'Palliative Care', material & still no sign of the CM. Where is their sense of duty of care & responsibility?
Suddenly, the case worker appears & informs us that mother needs to be put into a 'High Care', facility ( I can't wait to get her out of this joint)! No real communication!

So the search begins with appointing an 'Advocate", to help us guarantee a bed in a 'Premium Facility'. These people cost money & we also appoint a financial advocate to help negotiate the bond which can be $400,00 all the way up to 1million dollars.
This usually means the resident has to sell their home. The Facility advocate provides a list of suitable residences based on mothers needs & we go & check them out & meet staff, managers etc. We saw three this day & none of them really stood out until I suggested we take a look at the one nearest to where we live, (mum lived over the road from us). We roll up & are greeted with a big smile, are taken around & I realise this is the place. It ticks all the box's with being a 'Premium' facility. Lovely food, a glass of wine, many activities on offer, hairdresser, massage & aromatherapy, theatre etc. Fabulous you would think?, yes the days go by you see things for what they really are, dementia patients wandering around, ( that is another issue to finding the right place as mother doesn't have dementia, you have to put this into the equation). Not rampant, but it does upset her when they cry out & their behaviours can be confronting.
PCA ratio's to residents, how often they are changed (Incontinence Management), & to top it off not having their records transferred from the previous facility, making sure all the information about your loved one is in place.

Mother has been at the new facility 6 months now, sure she is safe, comfortable to a point, but it's a continual battle with the Clinician to make sure her pain management is in check, that the staff are gentle ( skin tears can ccur with her because she is now permanently in a 'Princess Chair'), that her medicinal needs are on track & her dignity is intact? This is the crux, is it?!!

In the end it's all about money, their profit & where's the dignity for your loved one in that equation?!

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  1. dezzymckenna's Avatar
    At least she has a good daughter and son-in-law!!

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  2. Libby Thomas's Avatar
    Thank you Dezzy!!! Just an update!!!

    Mother was was in that fascitlity for near on 3 yrs & passed away from Espiration Phenumonia in August 2015. She did have Vascuar Dementia which is long & short term memory only & she retained her recognition senses for her family & friends. It was a very sad ending for a brilliant & vital woman. The facility turned a blind eye as some of her things went missing when she went palliative, including a brand new bottle of Channel No 5 I'd bought her, many of her lovely clothes were either lost or ruined & her brand new walker which we wanted to take for a family member but was presented with a very 'well worn', version which we left there! Shameful are these money making enterprises, when it comes to keeping the clients dignity by treating them with respect, they DONT, it's all smoke & mirrors.

    I truly hope that things improve by the time we 'Baby Boomers', ( we are the last of them) come to the time we need care?!!!

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