Following Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcement of a royal commission into the aged care sector this week, Australians have begun sharing horror stories of their relatives suffering in facilities across the country in a desperate plea for urgent changes to the industry.
Now, Studio 10 star Denise Scott has added her voice to the calls as she shared her own devastating story on the morning show, after watching her mother suffer in “extreme pain” in dementia care.
Fighting back tears on Tuesday’s show, Denise opened up on her difficult memories as the panel discussed Monday night’s Four Corners episode, which aired footage from inside several nursing homes after families set up hidden cameras to document their relatives’ care. Some of the disturbing clips showed elderly residents crying out for help, with more left to lie in or next to their own waste.
“I couldn’t watch the show last night because one of the worst periods of my life was having my mum in dementia care and it going horribly wrong,” Denise admitted. “To the point that I walked in and found her [my mum] on the floor.
“Anyway, she had a urinary tract infection which is really common in elderly people, but if it’s not treated, you die. So it wasn’t treated properly and then my mum was dying in a dementia unit. I accepted that but said ‘she’s in pain’, she was in extreme pain and it was the most amazing thing that they wouldn’t give them pain relief, because that doctor only came on Friday and wouldn’t be back until Monday.
“You’re there seeing your mum dying in extreme pain and you have no… it’s private, it’s run by a corporation, you don’t have power. I was at my wits end, begging the staff to do something.”
Denise revealed she eventually called one of her friends asking them to call an ambulance for her, as she wasn’t sure she could due to the nursing home’s regulations. However, staff soon told her it was against the rules for her friend to make the call.
“I rang my friend in absolute hysteria saying ‘my mum’s dying, she’s in pain and they’re doing nothing’ and she said ‘well you call an ambulance, you get her out’,” Denise explained. “I didn’t even know I had that right.”
The comedian and TV star eventually called an ambulance herself before having to find other accommodation for her mum shortly after.
“You’re so busy dealing with your loved one, you haven’t got time to be dealing with the big story,” she told her fellow pannelists.
It comes hours after the ABC’s Four Corners aired a series of emotional interviews with family members of residents who have either died or suffered in an aged care facility. Joining them on the show were several former workers who chose to speak out about the reality behind closed doors, claiming a severe lack of under-qualified staff and budgeting on things such as incontinence pads has meant many residents aren’t receiving the care they deserve.
In fact, some of the former workers even claimed staff are now falsifying documents to make out residents are sicker than they actually are, in order to get hold of more government funding in order to properly care for residents.