‘It’s prison’: Horror stories inside nursing home
Horror stories of the neglect of elderly residents have emerged from inside the Newmarch House aged care home that has been ravaged by the coronavirus, including one woman left bleeding on the ground after a fall and another sent into a "diabetic attack".
Claims of a collapse in care standards at the Anglicare-run home at Caddens prompted a flash protest by relatives and an emergency intervention by the federal government.
Anthony Bowe was part of a group of relatives of residents to front up at the gates on Wednesday, saying his coronavirus-positive mother Pat Shea, 76, waited two hours after taking a fall and pressing her call button.
"Panic button means you're supposed to arrive immediately, but the staff have been too busy to come," Mr Shea said.
"She fell in the bath and cut her arm open, they patched her up but she's been lying on her bed in blood covered sheets for four days, it's disgusting.
"Pretty much everyone in Lawson wing where she is have tested positive for the virus.
"Mum's anxiety has gone through the roof, she thinks she's dying."
Diabetic Jan Doble, 81, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Tuesday and told The Daily Telegraph through the barred windows of her bungalow "I've got the virus and it terrifies me".
"I've lost my appetite and have to wear a mask in my room, I just don't want to give it to anyone … it's like a prison in here," she said.
"It's like World War Two, we've been through worse, us Aussies are fighters and I will get out of this home for my children and my grandchildren.
"I'm doing alright I'm hanging in there. I'm tired but I want to come out."
Her son Brett Doble said she waited hours to be fed one day.
"She's diabetic and not getting breakfast until 10.30am, needs to have it 7.30am," Mr Doble said.
"I could hear her on phone having an attack, I rang a 1300 customer number at the head office and they finally dealt with it. It should never have happened.
"She got a rissole and plastic knife for dinner last night."
Marie Watson said her mother Alice Bacon, 93, has terminal cancer and is worried sick for her future.
"Mum won't die of a coronavirus, she'll die due to a lack of care," Ms Watson said.
"They don't give a damn about residents in there, they just want our money."
Louise Payne said her mother Yvonne Vane, 89, was worried sick after testing positive for COVID-19.
"She said she feels tired and terrible all the time, thank god she's got dementia, I'm not telling her she's got the virus she'll be worried even more, "she said.
"I blame Anglicare for not managing this well."
Matt Steele took to social media after his grandmother also suffered a fall at Newmarch House.
"My 101 year old Nanna had a fall the other day and was left on the floor for 2 hours and was only discovered when they brought her breakfast in after her buzzer was repeatedly ignored," he wrote.
Three residents of Newmarch House have died from COVID-19 and 28 tested positive. There are 14 staff members also positive with the virus and 55 of the home's 90 regular workers have been put in quarantine.
Nepean Hospital staff created a semi-permanent "hospital in the home" there last week but NSW Health said it was only for the treatment and tracing of COVID-19.
"It would not extend to daily living tasks provided by aged care workers," a health statement said.
Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck on Wednesday sent Aspen Medical - the same private firm which boarded the virus stricken cruise ship Ruby Princess - into the home to urgently upgrade services.
The Aspen "emergency response team" will include a nurse to initially assess the size of the staffing shortfall, then registered nurses and allied health professionals.
He also said the health department would draw up a "roster of general practitioners" to work in the home.
"We understand the concerns from families regarding their loved ones," Mr Colbeck said.
He said he was "fast-tracking" access to personal protective equipment for Newmarch House staff.
Earlier Mr Colbeck told 2GB Radio some health workers were not willing to put their own health on the line to enter Newmarch House.
"A lot of people get really concerned about going into the facility, that becomes an issue because people obviously don't want to catch the virus … it's been a very difficult job to find backfill for that," Mr Colbeck said.
It was revealed earlier this month Mr Colbeck had Aspen Medical on standby in case a "surge" workforce was required at an aged care home.
Anglicare chief executive Grant Millard has invited family representatives to a conference with federal health chiefs tomorrow.
"We will talk to those families who have raised their concerns and we will invite family representatives to a conference with us and the Commonwealth Health Department tomorrow to make sure their concerns are answered," Mr Millard said.
"This has been a terrible situation for us and I want to thank those who are thinking of us and praying for us." "We are grateful the Commonwealth Government has been working closely with us to find the best staff across the sector to provide us with the high levels of care all our residents have come to expect.
"The Commonwealth has also provided us reassurance that whatever personal protective equipment (PPE) we need at Newmarch will be supplied."