Banned from visiting her dying mother: this woman’s story is our worst nightmare 206



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A story on ABC’s 7.30 last night highlighted the shocking treatment some families face by aged-care facilities, with one expert describing the whole system as irreparably broken.

A West Australian woman claimed she was banned from visiting her mother by not one but two nursing homes because she complained too much about the poor standard of care her 91-year-old mother was receiving.

Linda McGough told 7.30 her complaints ranged from a lack of incontinence pads to untreated pressure sores and that, eventually, she was banned from visiting her own mother.

Ms McGough claims she received the same treatment after moving her mother to a different facility.

“I think it was an absolute monstrous display of evil by these nursing homes, sorry I won’t call them nursing homes, this aged care facility,” Ms McGough told 7.30.

 The problems started after she raised her concerns with the Complaints Investigation Scheme around 12 months after her mother was first admitted.

The complaints were not upheld and Ms McGough says the aged-care facility turned on her.

“Within a week I started getting threatening and intimidating letters from senior management, even threatening to move my mother to another facility,” she said.

“That was September. That bullying and intimidation continued and [by] mid-December I finally lost my temper.

“There were other healthcare concerns that had arisen and I just became emotional — and I’m not proud of that, it’s not within my nature to lose my temper, I’m a very placid peaceful person. And I was denied access.”

After moving her mother to the new facility, Ms McGough soon became concerned about an untreated eye infection, but when she complained was banned from visiting her mother again.

“The denial of access was just unfathomable, absolutely unfathomable,” she said.

“That they would deny my beautiful mother — the one constant that had been there for her for 10 years. It’s incomprehensible. That would be the highest level of bullying imaginable.”

Three months later, after managing to negotiate three one-hour visits per week, Ms McGough’s mother died weighing just 30 kilograms; her daughter was not at her bedside.

Elder law expert Rodney Lewis told 7.30 cases like Ms McGough’s were increasingly common.

“I think it’s fair to imagine the reports are just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

“When a family member — a close family member — leaves the home after seeing their relative who’s a resident … they simply don’t have any way of knowing what’s going to happen to their relative.”

Mr Lewis said the system needed mediators and a major overhaul.

“The system is broken and there’s no fix in sight that I can see.” receives regular complaints from relatives and staff about the quality of care in nursing homes, and it’s founder says many of the issues are related to cutting costs.

“We are also concerned about the fact that aged care is being opened up more to an open market, and that also raises issues such as, does the community really want to have their loved ones in care where the primary focus is profits and not care?” she said.


Are you shocked to learn about this, or have you experienced something similar? Share your thoughts.  


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  1. I think it is disgraceful, they should shut the place down or get all new staff, that is was a cruel act to deprive a dying woman of having her daughter by her side, it makes you lose your faith in humanity

    6 REPLY
    • I wonder if the threatening letters were shown to the police or local member and if she has named and shamed the facilities as she has written evidence?

      1 REPLY
      • I would have kept every letter and also made copies. They would have been sent with the comlaints and how we were being treated by the Nursing Home.

    • no idea Kerry, I normally watch the 7.30 report but the wife was very sick last night and I was with her, I hope she has evidence to support it, she should take it further

      1 REPLY
    • It’s just disgusting, but to have so much trouble with not just one but two nursing homes there has to be more to the story. Otherwise she should of gone to the police or some higher authority.

  2. I’m sure there’s a lot more to this story that what has been told here. One- sided reporting by ‘current affair’ reporters does not give you a true picture.

    4 REPLY
    • I was about to make this comment. ‘Ugly’ families can be dangerous. I have seen a few cases where families should have been banned… ugh

    • I’ve been in the unhappy situation (as the senior RN on duty) as having to refuse entry to people … once at the resident’s request following a domestic violence situation, but all too often because drugs and or alcohol have clearly been a factor in behaviour. I’ve also seen some very irritating families … but I suspect I had the potential to be equally irritating in the last few weeks of my beloved grandfather’s life … and that is what I try to remember and to counsel staff to consider.

    • I think the ABC is more honest than most of the commercial channels, they don’t sensationalise things as much.

  3. Patient Advocate, is a service to care and protect patients. It might be an avenue for families.

  4. What ? No way something more here to the story ?

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    • Quite agree Amy, I have worked in age care myself and also have had both parents in aged care of thesehomeswill fall over backwards to keep families happy.As you say there has to be more to this story.

    • I too am thnking there must be more to it that what is presented on the surface. Beyond anything else, how could a home ‘ban’ a family member from visiting? Even in a secure facility, there is a code on the door which the lady would have. If she were to enter and go sit with her mother, what is she saying would happen? I very much doubt she would have been man handled out of the facilty or the police called (onwhat grounds) I have raised issues with the care home my parents were in, prior to my mothers death and they were handled with speed and courtesy. I even advocated on behalf of other residents I saw there who had no visitors and again, any issue I raised was acted upon promptly. Of course this is not always the case but…..I think there must be another side to this story.

    • Technically you could be removed for trespass Robyn … but in reality in my many years as a Registered Nurse in a variety of work settings family members are only ever asked to leave at the request of residents or if they provide a risk to those around them in an aged care setting. To ban or restrict someone’s visitors implies something much more complex than was indicated on 7.30 last night, or an institution in breach of outcome standards. Either way it required investigation.

    • I find it hard to believe there is not more to this story.
      You cannot ban a relative from visiting a resident in their home. , which is exactly what a aged care facility is when the resident enters permanently .
      UNLESS of course it is the residents instruction , or the relative has become abusive towards staff or other residents .
      Usually in these cases it’s only until the relative settles down and an amicable discussion can be had , and issues worked through for the benefit of the resident and their family .
      Yes ! There is no denying our aged care facilities require more scrutiny .
      Even though government do spot checks , some how a facility always knows their coming , and some put on a remarkable show for the day , I have seen this happen . ( and found it fascinating to see staff doing things you don’t normally see ) all for the governments benefit .
      But I still think for this lady , we haven’t heard the entire story , or maybe we only heard HER side . To ban a relative is pretty serious , and not once but twice !! Come on something is not quite right.

    • The full story might just show up behavioural problems leading to a ban. Those people working in aged care need some form of protection from aggressive demanding and threatening relatives. I would suggest that there would be something pretty serious to have occurred to lead to a ban.

    • “The Spine and Limb Foundation runs the home. Yesterday executive director Shane Yensch said Ms McGough had been banned because she had abused staff.” (Ref: The Australian) I don’t care if she called them every name under the sun, there is no right to ban the daughter of a 91 year old lady at the end of her life. This is an abuse of human rights. My mother went to aged care, so called low care, and only lasted 3 months before dying due to the poor care from visiting GPs and the facility which could not cope with any change in her condition. She lost 8 kg in 6 weeks, became quite confused and delerious and all the manager could do was tell me how seriously demented she was and how rude to staff she was (isn’t that their job – to manage behavioural issues?). Then the GP put her on an opiate patch for acute pain and I found out that most of the residents were on opiate patches for “pain management” – keeps them quiet I guess. She could not eat the food because she was blind and had difficulty cutting up the meat which was rubbish anyway – she always preferred Asian and Indian food and stews and we had to start supplementing her diet. There were no snacks – if you did not eat the main meals, too bad, you would starve. Then they installed a fridge with such a heavy door I could not open it and they had a hot water tap so difficult to coordinate all the residents used to ask me to help them get a cup of tea when I was there. Then I found out they were getting her to use pads even though she was not incontinent as she was having more and difficulty getting on and off the toilet by herself. I could go on. This was one of the better facilities in a upper class part of Sydney. Absolute debacle. I kick myself every day for letting her go there. So this poor lady’s story does not surprise me in the least. Aged care broken, and I am not sure who can fix it.

  5. My mother was in an Aged Home for Dementia and has since died, it was a beautiful place in Yorkshire U.K. I would be quite happy to be in this place, if and when necessary….

  6. Disgusted but not shocked it is so important to visit everyday get to know the staff don’t be afraid to complain and move your loved one as often as it takes to find somewhere you can work with the staff as part of their care team don’t give up

    2 REPLY
    • Sorry I hadn’t thought of that we are so lucky in Sydney to have such a wide range to choose from but still need to be very proactive notice and question everything and complain but reasonably and politely

  7. Aged care is terribly complex… there are certainly some very challenging relatives who make life difficult for staff, but sadly I have worked with people who do take their irritation out on those in their care… and it is not acceptable behaviour. I cannot imagine circumstance when relatives might have restricted visiting rights … other than substance abuse or the request of the resident. It’s a story which could stand further investigation by an independent body because there is certainly much more to it than meets the eye.

    5 REPLY
    • Wendy, I don’t care how complex aged care is, these people are trained in aged care and are being paid for their work, no excuses this is disgraceful. Whatever happen to care and compassion, this is not an attack on anyone but this is not on!

    • Lee… I was very clear … but for your benefit I will repeat … IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE to take your irritation with families out on residents. I was equally clear … the resident has the right to decline to see visitors. Equally the care provider has a duty of care to staff, other residents and other visitors NOT TO LET THOSE UNDER THE INFLUENCE IN THE FRONT DOOR. I did not say it was an acceptable situation I said it was complex and I stick to my view that .. and I quote … IT’S A STORY WHICH COULD STAND INVESTIGATION BY AN INDEPENDENT BODY.

      1 REPLY
    • Well I know of a case when a resident asked for certain people to be banned from visiting… It does happen! Don’t know anything about this case at all !

    • I also need to add, by way of explanation and in the absence of detail from the service provider that to impose care, such as nail clipping on a resident who refuses is common assault. I’m not excusing the ulcer on the old lady’s ankle … I’m saying that there needs to be a rigorous investigation by an independent body.

    • I agree and the daughter could have had her mother treated “in house” by her own doctor.
      It is unacceptable to ban anyone from visiting especially a close relative unless detrimental to the patient and even then it would have to be a legal procedure. So very sad for the elderly mother.

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