Another tragedy involving nursing homes has occurred and this time an elderly man has lost his life. Mr Zdenek Selir, died in hospital after staff at a Gold Coast nursing home failed to properly monitor and treat pressure wounds on his buttocks and feet, according to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. The 88-year-old, who was known to friends and family as Danny, moved into the Leamington nursing home in Southport in June 2015 after suffering a stroke. Mr Selir who developed gangrene, had minor pressure wounds when he arrived, but the operator of the facility acknowledges his condition deteriorated during his stay.
It was a family member who was first alerted to the situation when she visited the home and noticed a foul odour.
“She could smell something in the room and she couldn’t work out what it was and she pulled the covers up because she thought maybe he needed changing or something,” said Mr Selir’s daughter-in-law, Yvonne Selir. It turns out the situation was much more serious than that. “He had pressure wounds to the lower buttocks and his back and it had eaten into his skin and it was actually going to go gangrene,” she said.
“The other pressure sore he had was on his heel and his heel was that badly affected it had already gone to gangrene.”
Ms Selir claims the visiting family member asked nursing home staff to call for an ambulance but they instead insisted his wounds were manageable. The operator of the facility disputes this. According to Ms Selir, the relative took their own steps and called for alternative help, reports ABC News.
Mr Selir was taken to the emergency department at the Gold Coast University Hospital, where doctors took photographs of his wounds and forwarded them to his family. The images, some of which are too graphic to be published, reveal an enormous pressure wound, measuring 15 centimetres, on his buttocks.
They also show the full extent of the gangrene on one of his heels, which had turned black.
Ms Selir said her father-in-law was placed in a “fallout chair” for several hours at a time without being rotated and more should have been done to improve blood circulation. But by the time Mr Selir reached the hospital, it was too late.
“There was nothing they could do because the infection had taken over and it was shutting his organs down,” she said.
“It was devastating to see him just laying there. It should never have happened.”
Unsatisfied with the initial response from the nursing home’s operator, Opal Aged Care, Ms Selir referred the matter to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.
It found in her favour, noting there was “insufficient recording of wound care” and that nursing staff were not “monitoring the wounds consistently” or keeping Mr Selir’s GP up-to-date on his condition.
Gary Barnier, managing director of Opal Aged Care, acknowledges mistakes were made, adding that Mr Selir should have been referred to a specialist.
“Not only should the registered nurses have paid a bit more attention to the dressing and so forth of the wound, I think, really, it should have been escalated in a more effective way,” he said.
“All I can say is how sorry I am that the family feels the way they do.”
Aged And Disability Advocacy Australia (ADA Australia) chief executive Geoff Rowe said anyone with concerns about the treatment of an elderly person in aged care should contact organisations like ADA Australia by ringing a national hotline on 1800 700 600.