Former Sarah Claydon nursing home aged carer Katherine Firth has told Federal Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt of the heartbreak and frustration that caused her to resign.
Ms Firth told Mr Wyatt she witnessed failures of duty of care “on a daily basis and when I lodged formal complaints to supervisors I was told leave it with them, but they only went through the motions”.
A hefty dossier of complaints by Firth and fellow ex-IRT In-Home Care workers Eddie Lee and Shane Lyttle is bound for the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.
Ms Firth, with 20 years’ experience in the disability aged care sector, has come forward after meeting Lee and Lyttle, as a consequence of the Times’ initial coverage of IRT’s sacking of the two men.
Assistant Minister Wyatt met the Milton Ulladulla trio in his parliamentary office in Canberra on Thursday and listened to a series of allegations.
After an hour, Mr Wyatt asked the three to document further evidence that he will deliver to the recently appointed complaints Commissioner Rae Lamb.
Federal Member for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis arranged and attended the meeting.
Ms Firth told Mr Wyatt she resigned in 2015 in heartbreak and frustration from Sarah Claydon at Milton after almost 12 months.
“If some of the the staff took a set against a client, they would neglect them, for example deliberately make them miss out on a bath or a shower, or not perform other care tasks,” Ms Firth said.
“People like me who were prepared to stand up got bullied and ostracised,” she said.
Lee, Lyttle and Firth emphasise, however, that they believe a majority of IRT Milton care staff are dedicated and deeply committed in their duty to the elderly, and their complaints relate to a small proportion of staff who lack care and compassion.
“People like me who were prepared to stand up got bullied and ostracised."Katherine Firth
Mr Wyatt asked if any IRT clients featured in an online video called Good Death signed a release and was told no.
Lyttle and Lee both said they were exposed to an elderly client with golden staph without prior warning of his condition, or appropriate notification to wear personal protective equipment.
“Government takes allegations related to the quality of care in residential facilities very seriously,” Mr Wyatt told Lee, Lyttle and Firth.
“I want to thank all individuals who bring concerns such as these to my attention.
“Transparency will bring the best outcome.”
Mr Wyatt also recommended the trio make submissions to the Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into safeguards against elder abuse just initiated by Attorney General George Brandis.
However the Times has seen an IRT text message warning staff not to discuss any of the issues outside work.
IRT said “The complaints raised by Ms Firth are more than 12 months old and have been fully investigated and resolved”.
“We are not aware of any outstanding issues relating to these matters and we welcome an independent review by the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner”.
“Transparency will bring the best outcome.”Assistant Minister Ken Wyatt
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