Video footage obtained by a local television channel in the US has shown the poor quality of care and complete lack of respect for an elderly resident in need.
The video showed James Dempsey, a war veteran from Atlanta, calling for help a number of times, clearly saying that he “can’t breathe”.
After calling out six times, pressing a call button and gasping for air before eventually losing consciousness – and the nurse arrives eight minutes later.
When nurses came to his aid, not only did that fail to take lifesaving measures, they were also seen laughing as they struggle to start the oxygen machine for James.
The cameras were installed by the family or Mr Dempsey himself, showing the incident which occurred in February 2014.
Despite occurring more than three years ago, the two nurses only lost their licences last September because of the released footage.
Tim Dempsey, James’s sons, said that he thought his father’s suspicions were “over-the-top”.
“We would have just thought it was natural causes and everything was done that should have been done and he passed away in his sleep”, he said.
But upon seeing the footage themselves, it left the family in “shock” and “dismay”. Especially since they said they knew the nurses well, “we’ve seen these people everyday.”
Dempsey’s family sued Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Center in 2014.
The facility allegedly tried to keep the video secret for the past three years.
The topic of having cameras in aged care is a controversial one, even in Australia. But from this case, it appears that without that footage the nurses would have never lost their licenses.
During the deposition, the nursing supervisor (who is seen in the footage) claimed she rushed into the room and took over CPR, keeping it up until paramedics arrived – however, the video shows otherwise. There is an evident lack of judgment and respect in the nurse’s actions.
The facility have released the statement, stating that they “saddened by the events, which occurred more than three years ago.”
That specific aged care organisation said that they have “new leadership and the leadership team and the staff have worked very diligently to improve quality care and the quality of life for our residents.”
Despite this specific incident happening in the US, situations like this can occur anywhere around the world – calling for better security for aged care residents.
One frequent suggestion has been the installation of security cameras in private rooms – however, it’s been said that this may invade the privacy of residents and staff.
Last year, a hidden camera in an Adelaide nursing home has captured footage of a staff member appearing to attempt to suffocate an 89-year-old man.
The camera was installed by the man’s daughter who suspected that her father’s bruises were a result of elder abuse from the aged care staff.
Her footage definitively showed that the staff were indeed causing harm to her father, however, the facility, in a surprising move, forbid the daughter from any further recordings.
In an attempt to ensure her father’s safety, the concerned daughter had breached the Privacy Act, the Aged Care Act and Video Surveillance Act.
Another crucial key lesson from what was seen in the shocking footage is the importance of hiring the right staff – people who are compassionate and caring towards the elderly residents.
If the staff is not suitably fit, with empathy and a genuine passion to work with older people, the chances of incidents like James Dempsey occurring increases.
Caring for the elderly goes beyond training to do tasks – to simply put an oxygen mask on and lazily do CPR.
A compassionate nurse would have seen a man suffering, and done all they could do to help him.
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