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Aged care insiders detail atrocious conditions

Maggots have been found in the wound of an aged care resident, while other elderly people are allegedly being left in soiled continence pads for more than 16 hours, according to whistleblowers.

More than 6500 aged care staff, relatives of residents or residents themselves, have submitted anonymous reports to a website called Aged Care Watch.

Among the thousands of reports were 2300 incidents of residents being left distressed due to a lack of care, 1900 incidents of residents being left soiled for an extended period and 600 incidents of a resident suffering an injury due to a lack of care.

The submissions revealed a horrifying picture of life inside some homes, more than a year after the Government said it would act on the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

One report of maggots allegedly found in a resident’s wound at a home in Queensland was not included on the website, but instead forwarded directly to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, due to its serious nature.

The unnamed home was also allegedly not showering residents and regularly serving them canned spaghetti.

All other submitted reports named the homes.

At Blue Haven Bonaira, in Kiama, NSW, a worker alleged this month that chronic understaffing meant residents were “suffering with soiled continence aids for over 16 hours”.

The carer also claimed that wounds were not attended to and residents were losing weight due to staff not having the time to “assist in feeding the many residents that require this assistance”.

At the Bethanie Beachside Aged Care Home in Yanchep, WA, a worker claimed that there were two to three carers on one wing for up to 48 residents.

“I have found residents on the floor and no one about to come help them,” the staffer wrote.

At Bupa Bellarine Lakes, in Moolap, Victoria another carer claimed the home was “understaffed to the max” and residents were being given “below standard quality meals”.

“Everything is about budget,” the worker claimed.

An aged care worker at the Eldercare Cottage Grove in Woodcroft, South Australia, said they were at breaking point due to “burnout, stress and anxiety due to uncertainty of staffing”.

Meanwhile, a relative of a resident at St Ann’s Homes Davey Street, Hobart, Tasmania, reported that their family member had lost weight because there was allegedly “no help with eating” and that their family member smelled because they were not being showered.

The United Workers Union (UWU) which set up the website said it would be passing on all the reports to the aged care regulator on Wednesday.

“The reports identify 2700 cases of understaffing, more than 10,000 unfilled shifts and 800 personal accounts of incidents due to a lack of care time for residents – and we know this is the tip of the iceberg,” United Workers Union Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said.

A spokeswoman for Blue Haven said it had an excellent track record on clinical care, but acknowledged it was understaffed.

The spokeswoman said it could not “properly investigate” this allegation as it was anonymous and lacked “substantiating evidence”.

An Eldercare spokeswoman said it was unable to verify the comments on the website as they were anonymous and there was no validation process for the person making the comments.

However, all its sites in South Australia were under “enormous pressure” due to staffing shortages due to aged care sector underfunding.

“Not for profit aged care providers are making significant losses so this is not a case of providers not investing in their workforce,” she said.

A Bethanie Beachside spokeswoman said they “do everything possible to ensure that all our facilities were always adequately staffed”, but that it provided high quality care and consistently sat above industry benchmarks for comparable sites.

A Bupa spokeswoman said the complaint in September last year did not accurately reflect the current situation and that no issues were raised following a review by the Aged Care Commission in December 2021.

A resident and relative survey in March found 100 per cent of respondents said team members were caring and kind, 99 per cent of respondents said they were treated with respect and felt safe in the home.

St Ann’s Homes declined to comment due to the lack of information around the complaint.

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