My Mum was in residential care for a number of years, initially in low care, and later high care.  At one point, I decided to bring her home to live with me as I felt that she was not receiving decent basic care, or even adequate food, despite me advocating constantly on her behalf.

While Mum was living with me, we had home carers who would come to our house most days for a few hours. Claiming a government home care package would have meant losing all of her war widows benefits. Mum was widowed when she was still very young, and worked her entire life to support us and owned her home. We were able to pay for private care by selling her house, and this enabled me to find a care company that provided a very high standard of care for Mum. Their staff were excellent and we had the same carers for some time.

Unfortunately, after around 18 months, my own health began deteriorating and I had to place Mum back in high care. The nursing home carers were so short staffed they didn’t have the time to do basic care, let alone spend any time with her to chat. We were determined to ensure that she was properly looked after as she deserved, and the owner of the home care franchise actually advocated for Mum on our behalf, gaining permission from higher management to continue to allow Mum to receive her hours of private care within their facility from the carers who had looked after her in my home. The franchise owner even threatened to get the press involved as he advocated for Mum to be able to get the care she was paying for, that the home somehow couldn’t manage provide!

I was pleased with this positive result and so was Mum.

Sadly Mum succumbed to the flu and we lost her last year. The irony is that as a palliative patient she was given far more care and attention than she had ever gotten as a conscious resident! The home carers continued to come to visit, massaging Mum’s hands and feet, and talking to her all the time. I myself found the familiar and caring presence of someone who knew Mum so well a great comfort while I sat with Mum holding her lovely warm hand, talking to her and playing her favourite music while she was unconscious for nine days. On the tenth day she slipped away.

Not every family would be prepared, or even be able to fund this outside help, but it really shows how short staffed nursing homes are. The management of these homes are top heavy, and residents  are paying their salaries through funding packages as well as private contributions, while they are receiving limited and substandard care. It is absolutely deplorable.

Aged Care Reform Team: That is truly disappointing on the part of the nursing home, and I cannot believe the amount of times since we began this campaign that people have told me that they have felt they needed to go into residential care facilities to look after their loved ones! What exactly are consumers and the government paying for with their weekly fees and bonds if they then have to seek extra, private care hours?

We are so sorry for the loss of your Mum, and though it is a very bad situation that led you to seek private care, it is great to hear that you found such wonderful, caring people to be by both of your sides when you needed them the most. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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