An article, Care the key in ending aged hell, (Sydney Morning Herald 14 Apr 2012, by Adele Horin) relates the experiences of "Jean" as she attempted to ensure that her husband received adequate aged care during the last years of his life.
Sadly, Jean's story is repeated over and over in homes across Australia as evidenced by correspondence received by Aged Care Crisis from distressed family members:
"... Aged care has become a business, not a service,'' Jean writes. ''At best, there is nothing in place to nurture [the residents'] spirit, to prepare them for a peaceful end. At worst, they are neglected, antagonised and frightened...."
Jean's journal, A Fly on the wall... In Hell is a detailed account of day-to-day life in three Australian aged-care facilities - all fully accredited.
This is Jean's story:
I am in my 82nd year, and I am a witness to what goes on in residential "aged care" facilities.
My beloved husband died last year after spending time in three different facilities. I am a reliable witness because I stayed with him almost all day, every day, in order to protect him.
I became a fly on the wall, part of the background, listening and watching… and wondering.
Section 1: "Compassion Place"
"Compassion Place" is a non-profit organisation. It accepts people who are in need of very high care, and people of limited means. It is based on a Christian ethos of love and respect for the most disadvantaged. The name, Compassion, comforted us and gave us hope.
Section 2: "The Lodge"
"The Lodge" is an up-market for-profit facility that does not take public patients except for limited periods of respite. The driveway sweeps up grandly to the main portico. As you enter, you are struck by the elegance of the gigantic chandelier above a massive round lounge that takes up most of the large foyer. Huge bouquets of fresh flowers placed on antique sideboards are reflected in ornate gilt-edged mirrors. Looks can be deceiving. But, as in "Compassion Place", there is no one in sight. The atmosphere is sterile, claustrophobic.
Section 3: "WXYZ"
"WXYZ" will stand for the acronym of this for-profit organisation. It is housed in a dilapidated old school building, surrounded by a gritty parking lot. The venue has had many incarnations as a nursing home, noted over the decades for the fact that the neediest high care residents are accepted there.
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