Hearing mum was ok after a fall when she had displaced rib and vertebrae fractures

We invited members of our community to share their experiences and perspectives of aged care services. Disclaimer: These stories have not been independently verified. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of Aged Care Reform Now and are shared for information purposes only.

Mum was intelligent, absolutely coherent and smart, totally independent to the age of 97+. Unfortunately following several falls which resulted in numerous fractures over a period of time, we felt an aged care facility was the safest place to be as I could not be by her side 24/7. I found a brand new aged care facility with smiling staff, a hair salon, massage therapy, movie theatre and thought how lucky we were!

Very soon issues with unqualified staff dispensing and administering drugs, lost Webster packs, and shared medication started to arise. There was a lack of urgency in getting a doctor to attend when required — Mum had COPD, a heart condition, a huge hiatus hernia that pushed her stomach into her chest cavity, healing fractures etc. As well as this there was inadequate food, loss of labelled garments, lack of providing personal hygiene, and more.

I started keeping a diary and even noting what medication was dropped off, when, and with whom. I also took photos. One of my biggest concerns was the unreported falls because I knew the suffering these caused and the rehab needed afterward. On one occasion when I asked why I hadn’t been advised, I was told “well, ‘there’s a fine line between a fall and a near miss’ !!!!! She’s ok.” This comment outraged me as Mum turned out to have a displaced rib fracture and a few vertebrae fractures. Clearly a fall with impact! Two staff got her off the floor eventually.

Of course, I reported to the Facility Manager and staff each time, giving them the opportunity to improve and avoid a repeat of such incidents. I also lodged two formal complaints with the ACQSC (Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission) and ‘gaps were identified’.

Stupidly for the 15 months Mum was there, I trusted the system and sadly we were both let down big time. Without going into further details, Mum passed away the day after her last fall, I was not advised until the next day.

18 months have passed and my pain is as deep and sharp as it was on 2/9/2019. My frustration can be understood by people in my situation.

The Royal Commission will have been a total waste of time, money, resources if the recommendations are not implemented. The 1997 Aged Care ACT needs to change. I’m ready to march and protest, our Government has to do the right thing!

Amina Schipp

If this story caused sadness or distress, please reach out for help.
Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au
Headspace: 1800 650 890 or headspace.org.au

Do you need to lodge a complaint? We have information on which government agency to contact, and how to explore legal support here: https://agedcarereformnow.com.au/resolving-complaints/where-to-make-an-aged-care-complaint/

Do you need support? OPAN provides free services to support older people and their representatives address issues related to Commonwealth-funded aged care services and informs people of their rights and responsibilities: 1800 700 600 or opan.com.au

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