A Newcastle Aged Care resident was left in bed surrounded by her own urine and faeces.

Many voices are chiming in on this horrifying revelation saying cost-cutting and understaffing are at the crux of this shocking example of neglect.

Hearing of a situation like this strikes us all, regardless of age, background and context. When we are confronted by a story such as this something deep down in us revolts. The thought and in this case, reality, that a human could be so treated, especially while they are in a state of such dependency and fragility is deeply abhorrent. How is it that we should respond? A start is to stop and listen. To turn away from our cat videos and social media presences and to give the first dignity, to be listened to.

Val Simpson lived out the last of her days at Tinonee Gardens The Multicultural Village. It was there that her family saw her mouth was consistently dry, cracked and shrivelled with filth. Her daughter said at times that her mother could hardly talk to her because her mouth was so dry. Food was left in her mouth and she displayed signs of prolonged dehydration.

Ms Simpson had dementia and this made her particularly dependent on care. It also heightened her level of care, in the number of services she needed and frequency of application. Staff at Tinonee have stated that incontinence pads were limited to three residents per day and that many residences even if they were lucky enough to get pads or nappies, had to have rash cream frequently applied.

The rationing of pads is an extremely alarming fact in the face of such desperate need for them. Val Simpson was keenly affected by the rationing of pads as she was prone to urinary tract infections. Particularly grievous was the condition in Ms Simpson and her inability to be understood. Through being in such pain and at the receiving end of acute neglect it can only be imagined as to how frustrated and scared Mrs. Simpson was. Yet Ms Dodd, Val’s daughter said that staff put her mother’s behaviour down to anger management problems and gave her sedatives instead.

Apart from the grievous neglect in hygiene and resources, Ms Simpson also went missing in the middle of winter, only to be found hours later near the bins when the staff were taking the rubbish out.

The home has subsequently apologised to Ms Simpson’s family, this apology coming three weeks after the home was sanctioned for failing to meet 10 out of 44 industry benchmarks.

This case of blatant neglect and contravention of industry standards comes in the wake of significant government initiative to attempt to address Aged Care sector issues. The new Quality and Safety Commission is touted as having a particular focus on risk management and rapid action, with the added caveat of a development of a serious incident response scheme, says Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt.

If change is to happen then all parties, families, loved ones, government agencies, homes and medical staff will need to maintain open, frequent and frank conversations to ensure that our most vulnerable are listened to and looked after.

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