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                                     AGE CARE OR AGE CRUELTY?

This is our Father Alfred, 89 and our Mother Hetty 87. The photo was taken in March 2018.

Mum has advanced Dementia and Dad with support from us, his three daughters looked after her at home until the day she was admitted into a nursing home, after breaking a hip approximately 2 years ago. Dad gave up the home they both loved and had lived in for 26 years and he moved to a small unit to be close to Mum. He made his way to the nursing home each morning and stayed until evening, when she went to bed. Mum’s condition deteriorated to the point where she recognised nobody apart from Dad, her husband of 68 years.

She has sat next to his empty chair for two months now, after he was admitted to Hospital because his ability to care for himself had diminished following an accident and he was also suffering from the early stages of dementia.

Dad's name has been on a waiting list to join Mum at the nursing home for six months. It was explained to us by a hospital Social Worker, if he went into a Transitional Care Facility after being discharged from hospital he would be prioritised for placement in the home and so Dad and our family reluctantly agreed for him to go. He was placed in Transitional Care 33 kms away from his home, as apparently that was the only bed available. We were not happy about the distance as our Mother does not travel well and becomes distressed in a car and Dad can only remain seated in a car for a few minutes at a time. In traffic the journey is an hour each way so visits between them would be greatly reduced; however, further verbal guarantees from the Social Worker that Dad would be given priority whilst in Transitional Care and would only be there for approximately three weeks swayed our decision.

Dad became depressed due to being away from his wife and his family who were also unable to visit as frequently because of the distance involved and the fact that all of us daughters aged 66, 60 and 59 work full time. After four weeks in Transitional Care he was seriously concerned he would not be given a place at the home and then the Social Worker at the transitional facility asked us for a “plan B” and to give our suggestions as to where he could be permanently placed in the event that there was no place available in Mum’s home.

His ability to care for himself had declined significantly in the four weeks he had been in transitional care and he was now unable to walk without assistance, he was confused, unable to shower himself and he became incontinent, all things he had been able to manage before going there. He was also strongly medicated and deemed a high fall risk. He had his first fall two weeks after being admitted. With no preventative measures in place at the facility, he then managed to get out of bed unobserved, four nights ago and make his way to the bathroom, where he had a serious fall. Dad now has lacerations to his face, stitches in his brow, extensive facial and body bruising and a fractured neck. He was about to be transferred back to the transitional home by ambulance in this condition, less than 24 hours after he was taken into ED and would have, had my sister not arrived at the hospital and prevented it from happening. Our refusal to have our Father returned to the facility led to his being admitted to hospital, but we are informed he will be transferred to a hospital further away after the weekend, thus making visits even more difficult than they were previously, for his wife and family.

 After some rehabilitation in hospital we will have come full circle. My Father will be transferred to another Transitional Care Facility to wait for a placement in Mum’s home, however this may never eventuate because after meeting with the CEO and Manager of the home three days ago, it became apparent that priority when a room became available had go to someone who had the necessary funds which amount to  $325,000 and couldn’t go to a concessional applicant, such as our Father.

Where is the humanity in our aged care? How can such inhumane treatment of our elderly be justified? Our parents, have dedicated 68 years of their lives to one another, they’ve worked hard, raised their family to be community minded people, overcome the difficulties that life presents to us all and they’ve done it together, only to be torn apart at the most vulnerable stage of their lives and forced to spend the little time they have left apart. Our Mother in her lonely world of Dementia, without the only person who is familiar to her and our Father, stuck in Transitional Care in a hellish limbo, injured, in pain, depressed and confused.

All of which could have been avoided had we not been misinformed by a system that is meant to care for the vulnerable and sick.

Given the true circumstances of the situation none of us would have consented to transitional care, but would have insisted on rehabilitation so Dad could return home and spend his time with Mum, which he needs and deserves to do, so they can both live out the rest of their lives peacefully, surrounded by people who love them and care about their welfare, not with strangers who are concerned only about how much money they stand to gain or lose.

Please show your compassion and share this petition. Help us to correct this inhumane situation expeditiously and allow our parents to live out their days together.

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