Australia Editor's Picks Health Latest Top Stories

Aged care worker who mistreated, force-fed patients allowed to keep working

MELBOURNE, Australia: A worker who mistreated six elderly residents — including hosing one down with cold water and force-feeding another a hot meal — was warned three times but allowed to continue working after he passed an elder abuse questionnaire, the aged care royal commission has heard.

But two months after the warning about force-feeding the female resident and throwing a call bell at another resident, the personal care assistant abused another elderly woman.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety today heard the man “shouted”, threatened to take her walker, “hit her on the side of the face” and “stomp[ed] on [her] personal clothes”.

Another worker witnessed the incident, with the elderly woman saying “stay with me, don’t go”, according to documents tendered to the commission.

 In April 2016, the woman’s daughter wrote a letter to the manager at Japara Bayview at Carrum Downs in Melbourne’s south-east, saying her mother was so terrified she wanted all the windows and doors locked.

She said it was not good enough for the personal care assistant to keep working at the facility and she wanted him sacked but wrote: “I suppose it will be like the Catholic priests who are moved on to offend elsewhere.”

Japara again suspended the personal care assistant, but he resigned before he could be sacked by the company.

However, in a “statement of service” for future employers there was no mention of any of the incidents of abuse and mistreatment.

Instead, the statement said the personal care assistant’s duties included attending to the “physical, mental and lifestyle need and wants of the residents”.

There was no mention of whether the worker — who was not named at the hearing — is still working in the industry.

The letter raised serious misconduct, involving hosing down a woman with cold water, speaking rudely to others and causing distress to another resident who said she was forced to go to bed.

This third week of royal commission hearings in Melbourne has heard evidence about the lack of a national register for personal care assistants (PCAs) in Australia.

PCAs make up between 70% and 80% of the aged care workforce but are unregulated, unlike registered and enrolled nurses who are disciplined under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).