Aged care good news story

by Trevor Long

Trevor Long (seen right with his wife Margaret) recently attended COTA NSW's consumer reference group meeting at Campsie, and shared a good news story about aged care.

I offer this story as a counter to the horrific ones currently emerging from the Royal Commission into Aged Care. There are some good aged care homes out there, but sadly, too much depends on the staff and their attitude to their jobs.

My wife Margaret had a stroke in December 2016 and spent six months in hospital. When she was due for discharge and had an ACAT assessment, it was obvious I could not look after her at home.

I started to look for nursing homes. I visited about seven homes in the Revesby/Padstow/Bankstown area, some of whom had multiple beds in single rooms and a few of which I discarded due to lack of nursing staff and carers. There were quite a few that were not maintained as well as I would have expected, and some were just showing their age.

Eventually I selected the BUPA aged care facility at Bankstown. I was impressed by its newness (only five years old at that time), and the staff were keen and professional. Margaret could occupy a single room with a pleasant view and an ensuite bathroom. Although she couldn’t use the bathroom independently, it was convenient for the staff to assist her.

The good news is that over time I was confident that I had made the right decision. The principal staff, that is the care givers, nurses and head nurse staff, were very caring of Margaret for the duration of her stay. Nothing was too much trouble.

I visited Margaret daily and the staff kept me advised of any change in her condition and very responsive to my directions on her care. During this period, she was hospitalised many times. Margaret also liked the home and the staff.

During my visits I had the opportunity to observe how the staff treated other residents in the home, which was generally in an appropriate manner. The only problem I saw was the frequent change of general manager, which in my view detracted from the continuity of service.

Fortunately the staff were professional enough to continue to operate despite the lack of direction resulting from the changes in leadership. In fact the chief nurse is now the general manager of the home, which is not bad for someone who migrated here from Tibet! 

My only other concern was the reduction in registered nursing staff on weekends and after hours. I made this point to the Commonwealth oversight group who audited the nursing home while Margaret was a resident. I understand that my concerns were raised with the acting general Manager, but the audit was still continuing when Margaret passed away.

I was also very disappointed with the Department of Human Services when trying to sort out Margaret's aged care fees. I wrote to them numerous times, objecting to their decision on her daily fee, without receiving a response.

It took a letter to the Aged Care Minister at the Federal level to resolve the issue some thirteen months after it was first raised. In my view the department needs to respond to correspondence promptly. Frequently when I contacted them they told me that they did not have the time to respond to correspondence!

I spent a lot of time dealing with Federal, State and international bureaucrats so I do know how to get responses, and it was difficult even for me. Luckily I was able to fund Margaret's care until the matter was finally resolved. However this is certainly not the case for everyone.

Margaret remained a resident at the BUPA facility until March 2019 when she passed away. 

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