A STRONG woman who served in the army during World War II suffered in “hell”, at a Rockhampton nursing home, for the last 15 months of her life while her daughter watched on helplessly.
A STRONG woman who served in the army during World War II suffered in “hell”, at a Rockhampton nursing home, for the last 15 months of her life while her daughter watched on helplessly.

‘To die first would be kinder’ Mum’s decline

A STRONG woman who served in the army during World War II suffered in "hell", at a Rockhampton nursing home, for the last 15 months of her life while her daughter watched on helplessly.

The widow was living alone in her Rockhampton City unit with the help of her daughter, as her full-time carer, when she had a stroke - her daughter said this was when "hell" began.

The Morning Bulletin has withheld the names of all parties involved as Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety inquiries continue - legal action may also be taken.

After spending a week in hospital post stroke, her daughter was told she would no longer be able to provide the care her mother needed.

"I was advised by her specialist that it would be negligent for me to care for her at home," she said.

While her daughter provided high care for four years prior to her stroke, the medical episode caused her condition to worsen to the point where the only option was putting her into care.

The day her mother went into a nursing home was the day her worst nightmare began.

"I would never advocate for any aged person to enter a nursing home after what I witnessed," she said.

"Most of her stay there was a living hell, continually dehydrated and septic from undetected urinary tract infections."

"To die first would be much kinder. It is like being sent to a third world prison with no escape."

Despite giving the nursing home staff instructions on her mother's care needs, within a month she was hospitalised with dehydration and a UTI.

"This was the start of her decline," she said.

The stroke left her mother paralysed on the left side of her body and with swallowing issues, which sometimes left her hard to understand.

But mentally she was still strong.

"My mother did not suffer dementia contrary to the belief of staff, her short term memory and long term memory were fine," she said.

"She could tell me everything that had happened during the day. Up until the last three months of her life she was still picking her bets on the race horses every Saturday."

But the alleged neglect started to take its toll.

"She lost 40kg of weight in the last four to five months of her life suffering malnutrition," her daughter said.

Prior to being admitted to a home, her mother was hospitalised twice in two years for her UTI condition but hospital admission soon became a regular occurrence.

"I have 609 pages from the base hospital alone with her admissions. I also have a list of her admissions to the Hillcrest Hospital," she said.

"I expressed the importance of her fluid intakes daily to help prevent these infections but I did not trust that staff were giving the fluids that had been recorded."

She soon began marking the fluid bottles with a faint red pen and made her own fluid chart sheets to monitor her mother's fluid intake - she claims these methods proved her mother wasn't given water.

She said the amount of fluid in the bottle would remain the same regardless of what was written on the chart.

"It was like water was such a precious commodity she was not allowed to have - where did they get the water from to give her?" she said.

Name-calling and starvation were just two other challenges she faced on the daily visits to the aged care facility to ensure her mother's care.

"My mother was nicknamed the aristocrat by staff members behind our back - this name was given to her because I attended everyday for the duration of her stay in this home," she said.

The cost for this home was $35 a day for standard care but the family paid another $70 a day for personal care in a bid for their mother to receive an hour-long bath three times a week.

"She was lucky to receive one bath a week," she said.

The daily cost for her care was $105, which is more than $38,000 a year.

"They conditioned her to become incontinent of bowels as well as bladder, often left sitting or lying in her own mess," she said.

"She was often badly bruised on her legs and arms, and had skin tears on a regular basis."

Her dignity declined along with her health and she died with less rights than an "animal", according to her daughter.

Left "depressed, angry, bitter and haunted" from the experience, her grieving daughter said there needed to be a cultural change in nursing homes.

"Every nursing home that has over 80 residents should have a social worker on full time to monitor social, emotion abuse and neglect," she said.

She urged people with similar experiences to be part of the Royal Commission inquiry.

Watching her mother and best friend slowly fade away in front of her eyes was her only option, but if the Royal Commission makes the right changes, she hopes her experience will become no one else's reality.