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Woman slams aged care facility over husband’s maltreatment

Woman slams aged care facility over husband’s maltreatment

A wife has slammed a northern Tasmanian aged care home over the poor care her husband received, saying she would report the maltreatment to the RSPCA “if he were a dog”.

Dr Neville King, a psychologist and an Officer of the Order of Australia appointee who was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in 2011, moved into Glenara Lakes home in Launceston in July last year.

The professor’s wife Judith King told a hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety she brought her husband to a specialist after noticing on a visit that he was anxious and disorientated.

“[The specialist] identified acute delirium due to acute dehydration,” she said.

“I was stunned that that could happen.”

She said she had to repeatedly ask staff to hydrate her husband properly.

“The excuse that they are busy and they are allowing someone to get acutely delirious – it’s negligence in the extreme and it's a form of passive abuse,” she said.

“He hasn’t been beaten but he has been nearly destroyed through acute dehydration.

“If he were a dog I’d report it to the RSPCA and he’d be removed.

“I’ve been very sick, I don’t know if I will outlive my husband. We’re a little family of two. Neville won’t have an advocate if I’m gone, and I’m so disappointed that people in aged care are being treated in this manner.”

She said the facility staff intimidated her when she attempted to make complaints.

“Each time they wanted to bring in the area manager, and a couple of them are, with respect, dragons. They were brought in to intimidate and I just sat there and thought ‘this is wrong’,” she said.

During his stay at Glenara Lakes, Dr King also missed medications and showers and lost thousands of dollars in broken and stolen property.

Former facility manager Helen Marshall said she quit her job in October 2018 after 10 months because she was worried about the residents’ care and safety after cutting staff hours.

“I pride myself on not managing a facility that will compromise resident care and I couldn’t stay,” Marshall said.

“I actually said if I have to cut one more hour I will go, and go I did.”

The royal commission heard that Glenara Lakes had just one nurse for 16 dementia patients overnight.

Youngtown’s Glenara Lakes failed audits by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission last year along with other Southern Cross Care’s home Yaraandoo Hostel.

Southern Cross Care chief executive Richard Sadek said the provider had areas to improve.

“I would like to apologise to those residents and their relatives who have experienced the circumstances that have been portrayed here at … the commission,” Sadek said.

“I apologise and I say I’m sorry for them to endure the tension and the anxiety that they have.”