Saturday, October 07, 2017

Unpleasant reading

I don't how this post will show, with much copy and paste. It is depressing but worthy reading. Any of us could end up in one of these situations and it is something our Federal and State governments need to deal with, properly. The care home model for profit does not seem to be working terribly well in Australia.

I strongly press the point that anyone of us could be in old age care. The monstrous profit making industry needs fixing.

A resident's lament

I live in a big not for profit home. Mentally I shouldn't be here, but physically, my body needed help, which I thought I was going to get when I came here. Slowly I have been educated about what aged care is really about.

I was here for two weeks when someone told me not to bother pressing the buzzer, because they never come. It's like being imprisoned and there's no way out.

I have food allergies, but I have to fit around the menu. The dietician didn't come for three months. Sometimes I go out to have meals. When I complain, the frustration is terrible - the denial is unbelievable. They say they'll "look into it". They treat you like a nuisance and they make you feel like an idiot.
Marie Claire

Staff speak out

As a recent corporate employee of one of the listed companies mentioned, I could not agree with you more. It is a national disgrace and the sooner something is done the better.
I left the industry for all the reasons  you mentioned in your article ... I was always being asked to cut costs and raise revenue.
In the end I said to the board, I'll just offer bread and water and charge the residents more – that should keep the shareholders happy!
I miss looking after these vulnerable people. I wish I could go back but, alas, it is as you say "all about the money".
- Former national operations manager
I currently work in a not-for-profit aged care facility as a Registered Nurse.
Last week I had to work an evening shift 2:30pm to 11pm followed immediately by a night duty shift from 11pm to 7am the next morning. This happens regularly in my facility. At the end of my double shift I'm so tired that I can hardly think, let alone make critical clinical decisions around care needs. On the night duty shift I have 150-plus high care residents to care for and on the evening shift I have 75 plus.
In looking after this many residents I have to rely on non qualified carers and an occasional Certificate IV carer to feed information back to me.
I have worked in nursing homes all over Sydney in the last ten years plus ... I have recently taught clinical nursing care in a Sydney University.
I do not want to become a resident, ever, of any Aged Care Facility I have worked in.
- Anonymous
I worked in a high care facility as a carer. Overall the facility was staffed by people who were kind and caring who wanted the best for their residents. However due to a lack of supervision, leadership and systemic issues a low standard of care was provided, with elder abuse being rife.
Some of the things I observed were residents left with food smeared across their face well past they had been assisted with their meal, a cockroach family had set up shop in a resident's wheelchair, rough manual handling with residents yelling out for staff to stop, poorly managed pressure injuries, a resident who was left in a wheelchair outside and subsequently received sunburn, poor hand hygiene, and leaving residents in soiled continence pads for extended periods of time.
I made a complaint to the aged care commissioner which was passed onto "the agency" ... the site was audited which the site passed and there was no subsequent change in practice.
- Tom Rolls


Food is an issue

The food is so bad where my mother is that she has no choice but to eat out (still being required to pay for food in the facility she is allergic to-as a coeliac). Luckily she is still relatively independent such that she can do this. God help her when she isn't.
- Carol Lee
Food served in a nursing home in Queensland with charges a refundable deposit of $800,000Photo: Supplied
[I] have no idea where that food [pictured in Fairfax Media] is. I am an aged care chef. Our food is fresh, nutritious, plentiful and of excellent quality with quite a bit of choice. All residents, no matter what type of care, get the same food unless they are on textured modified diets of course.
Cooked breakfasts twice a week, 2 choices of meals for lunch, desserts for lunch and dinner, soup plus a light meal for dinner, baked goods for morning tea. Birthday cakes for residents on their special day. All done for way less than $10 per person per day.
- Jeremy Thomas
[I] quit working in aged care as I just couldn't stand these massive companies making millions in profits. The chief management even came in to gloat how much they had made that year!!!
A lady was on a soft moist diet they gave me a bowl of mash potato and clumpy gravy and said "sorry we ran out of food it doesn't matter anyway she has dementia she can't tell the difference between steak and paper towels"!
It broke my heart every day as I watched these beautiful people who had worked so hard all there [sic] lives and now these companies get half there [sic] house or superannuation and the kids shove them in there to take what's left and most visit them when they are about to die .
There are some decent families who love there [sic] relatives and do come and see them but it is a sad minority.
- Arlo River


'Tick and flick'

I'm a trainer/assessor of future aged care workers, working within a private RTO. It's hard to articulate to students the absolute greed of service providers within the industry purportedly cloaked in care and special attention but revealed by you as callous, exploitative and profit making.
My father, 92, late stage Alzheimer's and palliative bowel cancer, is in a residential aged care facility and I despair for his treatment. He is my litmus test for my students – would I let them anywhere near him? Only if I'm satisfied they have the skills and compassion to work with old people do I submit a satisfactory assessment of skills and training.
But I get a lot of pressure put on me by my RTO employer to tick and flick students through because funding has to be repaid by any RTO who enrols a government funded student who doesn't complete or qualify.
- Anonymous


Families and mixed blessings

Oh my goodness this article was so pertinent to me. I work in health and still I have found the whole aged care path so difficult to navigate. My Aged Care, ACAT, home care, CHSP funding, national queues for funding etc etc. And then if your family member happens to be a self funded retiree you get less and less.
Decent facilities in our area range from $1-2 million deposits. But it's not that – it's the fact that it's so hard to get support and coordinated care for your elderly family member. It sounds good online or on paper, but try and put it into action, it's just really hard.
I am struggling through this process and I have a background in health, and speak English. Imagine if you are from a non English speaking background with little knowledge of systems. It's just not fair.
- Nicole Nagler
After trialling several facilities in Sydney's southern district, we settled on [a for-profit home] for my mother, Rosemary. Like most, they promised the earth.
The reality was inedible, cold and unnecessarily pureed meals. Response to calls for help often took over an hour, and were sometimes met with "what do you want this time?" or "why are you ringing again?".
Rosemary was there from July 2012 to June 2014. She was blind, immobile and needed help to eat and drink. Often her food and drinks were just left there so she was often hungry and thirsty.
Within months a serious pressure ulcer ("sinus"), roughly 1cm across had developed on Rosemary's buttocks … All we got were more verbal promises and an explanation that the budget was very limiting.
Rosemary had a high intellect and active mind, so she enjoyed word games and quizzes but was rarely moved to the common room to participate in them. Instead, she was often wheeled into the company of dementia patients.
- Peter Mahoney
My father was 89 when he wandered off from his nursing home in early August four years ago, walked into a neighbours back garden 200 meters from the nursing home, fell into a garden pond and died of exposure. Search and Rescue found him three days later. I was incensed at the time and took issue with the nursing home,
who at that time were in the process of renewing their licence to operate but nothing came of it.
These are the people who made Australia what it is … My father worked as a GP for over 40 years and died a miserable death through dementia. This is what we can all look forward to, ending one's life in misery just so someone can make a profit on the deal.
- Roche Manuel
An insightful and informative article ... but in reality the "system" does not care.
My husband was finally correctly diagnosed in 2011 with early onset dementia disease (Lewy Body) … He is at home with me, drug free, and even though it is extremely hard work (he is in incontinence pads) and cannot do anything for himself and I work part-time, we are muddling through.
I have tried, unsuccessfully, to place my husband into permanent care three times over the past 18 months. None of the facilities could cope with his disease, despite all the assurances on being admitted. They all resorted to chemical restraints, sometimes without my knowledge. Despite stating that they were "person-centred", he suffered falls, lack of food, being locked in his room, inadequate nursing care allowing an ingrown toenail to fester and even being detained under the Mental Health Act, for which at a later stage the nursing home said should never have happened.
I wish for John's suffering to end, but it will end with my continuing care and in his own home…the system does not care and will not listen.
- Catherine Clarke-Jones
My Dad was lucky being in an aged care facility that had wonderful care, food and staff. However he was in a little country town where the staff & carers had known the residents all their lives.
- Amanda Williams
My mother's nursing home was wonderful, creative and caring. We did around the clock shifts as our old darling fought against the dying of the light. We saw the 4am cups of tea and toast for those old darlings who don't sleep at night.
We dropped in to find the residents talking and reading 1954 Women's Weeklys – the Queen's visit discussed as a current issue. They lived in their moment and the staff stayed with it. My mother was often looking for her horse to ride home about 4pm – she grew up on a property – and thanked [the staff] for letting her stay over when the horse was not found.
An aunt and a cousin had vastly different experiences. Money does not make it better. My cousin paid $850,000 to live in an architecturally grand palace where at Melbourne Cup time, the old dears in chairs were shoved in front of cartoons. No fun no Melbourne Cup sweep, nothing to brighten dull days.
- Pamela Curr
I was the CEO at Carers Victoria for 17 years (working across aged, disability, mental health, chronic illness. Also, my 94 year-old dad lives in residential care in Geelong. [It]is a wonderful example of what quality aged care can be.
It is my experience that many families do not have the confidence to get to know the staff, ask questions, to be on alert, to contribute to the care of a loved one, to make suggestions, to be an advocate, to acknowledge good work and great staff. The more positive the contributions are from families the better the care, culture and support will be.
- Maria Bohan
I have been trying to get best care practice for my parents, what a joke that is. Mother has been told several times to just "go" in her pants as that is what they are for … Two weeks ago she buzzed for assistance, waited for as long as she could, my father was helping her as she couldn't hold on any longer, she had a fall and has broken pelvis.
… [I] was visiting her this week, she needed the toilet, is unable to mobilise told [registered nurse] ... nurse's response was, and I quote, "Well you will have to buzz and wait as the girls are busy" , she then walked out of the room. I am afraid of repercussions if I challenge this, as I have seen adverse repercussions when I complained previously.
- Threse M Phillips
My mother has lived [in a nursing home] since June 2016.
In mid-2016, the management contractor brought in new managers, the first aim was to introduce "additional fees".
In June 2016, my mother had a fall, she fractured her left forearm which remained undiagnosed and untreated for five days. During those five days, she was toileted, dressed and she was in pain, as was detailed in the clinical notes. The nursing home's explanation was that my mother didn't want to go to the hospital.
My mother is fearful of any complaints being lodged, she fears the repercussions. Right now, after a dietician's assessment of June 23, 2017, my mother is severely malnourished, she is starving. Her weight has been dropping since she entered the nursing home.
I see myself in that bed where my mother rests now, in maybe 15 to 20 years time. It's scary.
- Theresa Kot
Old people would be better off committing a crime and going to jail for the rest of their lives. Aged care is a disgrace. Me? I'm going to book end to end cruises until I die. On board doctors, as much food (with choices) as you can eat and someone to take care of your room.

- Carrol Halliwell

Friday, October 06, 2017

The Ice Epidemic

It may or may not be the same in other western countries but our media really beat up Ice. That is methamphetamines. Overdosing on meths can make you very irrational and psychotic, and of course kill you. It is a drug that has been around a very long time.

What do you think Benzedrine is? Yep, a methamphetamine. Here it is listed on a Pan Am airline menu under Service Items, maybe from the 1940s. It made nervous fliers much happier and calmer and it was given out for free. Maybe it would be useful for someone in Perth who hates flying. (Grace, I'll ask my supplier if she can get you some)


Our media reports the ice scourge, the ice epidemic, violence committed by ice addicts. The media has people so frightened that they are sure they going to be carved up in bed as they sleep by an ice addict. Police have an interest in talking it up. More money for them to fight against the 'ice epidemic'. This interesting graph was published in the Lancet magazine, a peer reviewed medical journal in Britain. I assume this study was carried out in Britain and I can't see why it would not apply here.  No surprise that alcohol tops the list, dreadfully so when it comes to harm to others but do note the tiny amount of harm to others by methamphetamine users. Do we really have a huge Ice problem?

Looks like Cro is not a danger to others with his mushroom consumption, although I expect he eats a different variety.........or maybe not.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Little Jo is a cub

It was interesting to me to skim through this site. Little Jo and Bone Doctor are on a scout like camp. They attended three years ago, I think. Bone Doctor is not there as a doctor but as a cub leader. She has put some serious hard yards into being a cub leader. The numbers at the camp are formidable. Btw, just in case you are not sure, Bone Doctor is my sister's female partner and Little Jo is their daughter.

I was on a tram and...

I stepped onto a tram to get home from town after sitting for two hours in a very uncomfortable chair at a work training course. I was vaguely aware of woman heading for the vacant seat I was headed for. I quickly judged her as much younger and my back was hurting. It is my seat. I am just short of officially being a Senior.

She had three girls with her, all of similar age about nine or ten, Little Jo's age, to the point where they could not have been her daughters, but that is irrelevant. She sat two of the girls on vacant fold down seats, and then said to man of Middle Eastern appearance on the third fold down, perhaps a 40 year old bloke, would you mind? He acquiesced and gave up his seat for the third child.

I could not believe what I had just observed. In my world, don't children give up seats for adults? Gobsmacked is good word, and that is what I was. Am I wrong?

The Classless Australia

I first became aware of photography of the late Rennie Ellis via Ann O'Dyne and I was very impressed with his photos. Many have been digitised are now available to view online at Victorian State Library. I never realised Ellis didn't only take street photos but was a photographer of the rich and famous and so much more. I waded through the first dozen pages of photos and being of a sporting nature, they held little interest for me. Then I started to get to the interesting stuff. You can see them here at this direct link and to promote our state library, here a few of Rennie's photos. The site indicates that the library has digitised over 10,000 Ellis photos. If you don't want to see sporting photos, the good stuff begins at about page 12.

Ellis died in 2003 at the age of 63.

Does anyone remember Auntie Mame in Sydney's then notorious Kings Cross? Details please. I've worn my own Google out with this post.

I like his natural on the street type photos. Oops, lucky I double checked. This is by Roger Scott and not Rennie, and I like what I see of his photos. It's such a great photo of the lads in a Ghost Train, somewhere.

This little gem really grabbed my attention. It is a colour rich photo, so do click on it to see it full size. (Mary) Lady Fairfax on your left, heir to the Fairfax Press empire (publisher of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, various country newspapers and owner of the online real estate company Domain),  died only last month at the age of 95 and Gosia may be interested to know Lady Fairfax was once Australia's richest woman and Polish born. The other person is (Kathleen) Lady Clarke who died in 1999. We were once at a furniture auction house in High Street, Armadale and our friend nudged me. Over there, he nodded, Sir Rupert and Lady Clarke, and sure enough, there they were. The photo is called Lillian Lunch, no doubt a charity fundraiser lunch put on by Lillian Frank, once the hairdresser of our late friend, Dame M*.

I wonder if Rennie ever photographed Lillian Frank? Of course he did. So Annie, thanks for putting me onto Ellis. I have much to be grateful for to Anne O'Dyne over the years, from meeting her, interesting things sent in the post, musical education, absolutely shocking gossip and family history research. She is a bonzer chick.

*From the Cast List: Dame M. She is a rich widow who lives in faded grandeur in a substantial property on St Kilda hill. She smokes, drinks and gambles and at 82 is still hale and hearty. I could almost recommend her vices. Edit: Dead, 2008.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

GM Holden or Ford Falcon Part 1

For the record my father began his driving life in a Willys motor car. I can't remember what it looked like but one night when he was probably drunk, he smashed it into a bridge, and the next morning I looked out of the window at the Willeys and I said, all broke. Mother has told me what I said. Google is not being helpful in identifying what it may have looked like.

It was replaced by an FJ Holden Special. The car seemed very special to us, with its in dash cigarette lighter, non fan forced heating, carpeted floors and the rear venetian blind. It had belonged to a travelling salesman. One fault with it was it had vacuum operated windscreen wipers, that would slow down or even stop on steep hills or if being driven hard. It was driven until it could be barely driven at all and went to scrap. It was this two tone green. All photos from Shannons Car Sales who insured my Humber Super Snipe for its appropriate value, which the RACV would not.

Next came a bomb of a car, sold to Father by a so called mate. It was an FB Holden, with no extras whatsoever. The heating system had been removed as had the turn indicators. Seat belts had been added, with the bolts going right through the door pillars to the outside. I don't think we had it for very long. The colours were nice, pale blue and white as in the second photo.

By the mid 60s the family had grown and it was thought a station wagon or by its own name, a station sedan was required, so along came the EJ Special station wagon. Although only two models after the FB, it was a much nicer car. Still didn't have a fan for the heating and the same motor as the one before, but it was spotlessly clean, not that it stayed that way for long, with mud on the outside, muddy boots on the inside and bags of briquettes being carried in the rear often enough. It was this colour but of course as a station wagon as pictured lower. It lasted very well. It ended up abandoned not too far from the farm house, with its passenger side footwell full of water that had leaked in.

Different families often became either Holden or Ford fans, Holden being owned by General Motors. As you will have noticed, we were Holen family and we had no time at all for the car we called Found On Rubbish Dump. Our last Holden was an HR station wagon, again blue and white. Instead of a tailgate where the bottom half lowered and the top half raised, it had a wind up rear window. If you went for the top model, it even had a electric rear window. It was a good car, with a more powerful motor and much better to drive. We were now a two car family, with the old EJ still going. Our family was by now, Mother, Father, his brother and three boys and one girl. My uncle usually drove the older car, unless he was going out on a date when he would take the newer car. It was our last Holden. At one point Mother, who had always cleaned the cars, refused to anymore. Father would only give the car a rinse with the hose if he had to go to a wedding or funeral.

Father was rarely a harsh disciplinarian but he did have areas he felt strongly about. However, when my 15 year old brother took the HR for a spin when he was home alone, and flipped it over, Father was not so concerned. It was put upright, with a few dents, but still quite ok. Perhaps he remembered his own childhood and what he got up to. I think the paint work was the same style as the second car in a blue, but not the blue of the first car. I suppose it was traded in for the next car. I drove the older car and this one quite often, underage and illegally.

Ah, the Premier had the electric rear window, with just a keyhole to raise or lower the window. There was also a switch inside.

In part 2 I will tell you about 'the slut' and why Mother refused to clean the car, how I tried to sabotage Father's outing, along with Guy Fawkes night, and the final three cars my father owned before his early death a couple of years older than I am now. I look like my father. What genes of his do I have? River, you do wonder at times why I feel very mortal and may not live to an old age?

This post about remembering old family cars inspired by Diane, as her life story goes on.  

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

My eyes did not deceive me

I was absentmindedly gazing out the window of a tram and I was suddenly scratching my head. I am looking towards the Myer Music Bowl, which you can see here when I visited 'the bowl', and there is a building where there shouldn't be. It looks old. I am sure there is no old building there.

R knew all about it. It is the Pop Up Globe Theatre where Shakespearean plays are performed, though not as straight Shakespeare.  Shakespeare for the masses, I suppose.

It's a massive construction and clearly has to withstand storms, but it is only temporary.  We couldn't get to the other side as it is the ticketed area but I have a feeling it is partly open to the elements. It is not especially cheap to see a performance there, but still, I hope it is successful. You can view some details of the performances here.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Hopefully the week will get better

I slept badly last night. I woke up at about 3am with back pain and normally I would just go back to sleep. After getting up for a short time and going back to bed, I still could not sleep. For the first time in my life I took Panadol for the back pain and it eventually worked. Still, I could not sleep. I played on the computer for a bit from 4.30 am and then it was nearly time to get up at 5.45.

I kept playing on the computer. I listened to the 6am news on the radio and then the current affairs radio programme AM.  Terrible business by the police in Spain, possible terrorist murders in both Montreal and Marseille. I told you I did not like the feeling in Marseille.

On the way to work I stopped off at a shop and was given the wrong product. The work coffee machine mangled my cardboard coffee cup and my coffee went down the drain and I had to buy another. It was rubbish day at work.

So cheery to come home to my loved one who had devotedly cooked a very ordinary chicken curry in the slow cooker. He is such a good cook and knows his stuff by instinct. I don't know why he tries these lousy recipes from the innernet.

Then I see so many killed by a rapid fire weapon in the US. Jesus Christ US lawmakers. Can't you look across your border to the north and see how Canada controls guns and few people are killed by guns. You don't need a gun to protect yourself if no one else has a gun.

I don't suppose any significant gun control is going to happen in the US under Trump. It will take a tough leader with rhetorical skills, so that discounts Trump.

Resorting to cat videos

This is one very angry cat. Watch its facial muscles twitching. I am sure none of your cats are quite as nasty as this one.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

The view to the north

Well, we don't have a view to the north from home. Swanston Street is the central spine of Melbourne. It is said to be the busiest tram street in the world, with eight trams routes using the street. It is also the street for demonstrations and the two are not compatible. People demonstrate, trams get diverted and or turned back before they get to Swanston Street. It is very inconvenient, but people should be allowed to demonstrate.

Look south down Swanston Street and in the distance is the Shrine of Remembrance to honour the war dead, built on a constructed hill post WW I. Looking to the north was the old iconic Carlton & United Breweries. Most of the brewery was demolished and for many years the site stood empty.

Eventually a building went up and it is now what you see when you look up Swanston Street. It is as fugly as it could possibly be. If we weren't directly told, we were certainly given the impression that the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Design Hub would be environmentally sound, with these discs about thirty centimetres thick that would adjust themselves, that is move up or down depending on  the sun and the need for heat or cooling within the building.

They did nothing and remained static and we had been sold a lie, until they became very unstatic and began to fall off. It is a horrid building on a prime site at the end of our most important city axis.

I can't remember if it was Labor or Liberals in power at the time when it was approved. Maybe the approval lies at the feet of City of Melbourne or the evil VCAT, but I would be all for my taxes being spent demolishing the building and starting again. Scaffolding now surround the five year old building and protected walkways have been built at the base. The building behind is a bit interesting but it's very terribly hard to take a good photo. I will stand in the middle of tram tracks one day and see what I can do.

Later edit: The building is not really visible until you reach the top of Swanston Street. The building to the left is more visible, but something seems to be going up in front of that.