The wife of a man who sustained injuries while in an aged care facility due to a lack of available staff has launched a petition calling for an increase to employee numbers and mandated nurse-to-patient ratios.
Appearing on Channel Ten's The Project, Heather Brown detailed the experiences of her husband, Bill, in a Queensland aged care facility run by service provider TriCare.
She said her concerns had initially been raised after she found Bill -- who suffers from dementia, had been left outside of the facility for hours after soiling himself. In a separate incident, Brown was alerted by a registered nurse at the facility after blood was found on Bill's bed sheets. It was later found that he had been wearing a urine-soaked pad for up to 12 hours, causing the skin on his scrotum to split and bleed.
In a petition posted to Change.org which has now garnered more than 33,000 signatures, Brown labels the treatment of her husband "dangerous and irresponsible" and calls for the Senate Inquiry into the Future of Australia's Aged Care Sector Workforce to recommend mandated nurse-to-patient ratios nation-wide.
"I trusted TriCare, a multimillion-dollar company, when I reluctantly put him into aged care. I couldn't look after him by myself anymore," she said.
"It's dehumanising - my husband worked for tourism for years, he was a passionate fisherman - a typical Aussie bloke.
"Many nursing homes right across Australia are grossly understaffed. TriCare employs only a few staff to look after 24 patients. It's dangerous and irresponsible."
#theprojecttv residents should receive nothing less than excellence in care! Most of us do the right thing...— CEO at Glenview (@oflaherty_lucy) March 29, 2017
Under the current Federal government, the Aged Care Act says aged care facilities are required to have an adequate number of staff present at any one time, although it is up to the provider of individual care homes to determine what that number is.
There is currently no national legislation, unlike in childcare facilities and hospitals, that enforce a mandated ratio.
When people age they gain more health issues, it only makes sense that the staff be experienced in medical care! #TheProjectTV— Shane Matthew Neave (@shane25873) March 29, 2017
In response to the allegations, TriCare said in a statement that it "strenuously defends" the quality of service provided in its aged care facilities and rejects the claim that its staffing levels are inadequate.
"TriCare strenuously defends the standards of care provided by TriCare Bundaberg Aged Care Residence, rejects claims that staffing levels are inadequate and is committed to providing the highest level of quality care at all of its facilities," the statement said.
"The TriCare Bundaberg Aged Care Residence has been subject to very high levels of scrutiny by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the independent Government monitor, and has been confirmed as meeting the assessed required outcomes."
@theprojecttv Nothing short of horrendous just heartbreaking— Ian Graves (@xskinn) March 29, 2017
The allegations also come after the ABC's 4 Cornersexposed widespread mistreatment and abuse of people with disabilities in taxpayer-funded facilities around the country on Monday night.
The program looked at the legal loopholes that see people with disabilities put in a vulnerable position when it comes to physical and sexual assault at the hands of trained carers in disability facilities.
"These are homes where sexual and physical abuse occurs and perpetrators get away with it, because police and the justice system are unable to cope with the challenges of dealing with witnesses with disabilities," the program said.
While the Federal government rejected calls for a Royal Commission into the allegations across the country, following the 4 Corners report, disability groups renewed calls for an investigation into what they have called "only the tip of the iceberg".
The petition also comes after another disability service provider in Victoria is set to be investigated after allegations were brought to light over the potential sexual abuse of an autistic man in a group home.
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