A Brisbane woman set up a surveillance camera in her mother’s nursing home bedroom to protect her after she was assaulted by two staff members and left unattended for hours with a broken leg.
Lisa Backhouse told the Royal Commission into Aged Care she installed the camera after finding out her mother, former nurse and midwife Christine Weightman, had been hit twice by a staff member, the second such instance.
The camera allows Ms Backhouse to view live footage of her mother’s room through a phone app and sends notifications when motion is detected.
“If you have elderly, vulnerable residents in an aged care centre today, go out and get yourself a surveillance camera … if the facility tells you not to, do it anyway,” she told reporters after appearing at the commission in Darwin.
“I can watch my mum on my phone from anywhere at any time of day and I can be involved in her care doing that. Short of moving in and sleeping by her bedside, I don’t know what else to do.”
She moved her mother, who has dementia, from one Brisbane nursing home to another last Christmas after being angry when she fell and was left on the ground in agony for an unknown time.
Her leg was broken in two places and she was soaked in urine.
After three months in the new home, the centre manager phoned her to say that “mum had been hit by one of the carers”.
An investigation concluded there were “mitigating circumstances” but the worker was disciplined.
Elderly residents facing homelessness as nursing home staff walk out ss as nursing home staff walk out
A few weeks later the manager rang to say “I’m so sorry to have to call you about another incident. I’m afraid your mum has been hit, again”.
A different carer had “hit with intent and force, twice on her upper leg”, and she had been charged with one count of serious assault and was sacked.
‘I’m so sorry to have to call you about another incident. I’m afraid your mum has been hit, again’.
“I simply cannot describe the feeling of devastation and powerlessness that this has delivered,” Ms Backhouse told the commission.
“I had moved her to guarantee her safety and instead delivered her further into harm’s way.”
After setting up the camera, Ms Backhouse discovered her mother left soiled and on the floor for 43 minutes after falling.
In a separate incident, she was left unattended last month for 10 hours on one of the coldest nights of the year with no bed covers after they fell off.
The system was broken, she said, putting profits above residents with no regulation or national register for care workers, who were underpaid.
“We need a strong policeman on the beat, a regulator must be given punitive powers in order to be able to fine and penalise nursing homes that fail in their duty of care,” she said.
“When we look back in years to come, much like the orphanages of yesteryear, this will be our country’s greatest shame.”
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