Posted April 21, 2017 18:38:15
A former agency nurse who worked at the troubled Oakden nursing home 15 years ago said she was shocked to hear patients were still being mistreated at the facility.
The South Australian Government announced it will be closing the Makk and McLeay wards at the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service following a report into the facility.
Catherine Branscheid worked at Oakden in the McLeay ward for 12 months and said she witnessed some terrible treatment of patients during her time there.
“I saw some things happening that distressed me a great deal,” she said.
“Particularly one person, one elderly gentleman that was victimised quite a lot, physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Ms Branscheid recalled one particular incident with this patient where she found him stark naked sitting on a commode where he had been left for four hours covered in faeces.
She said the incident took place in the middle of winter.
“He was blue with cold and I think it was done deliberately, he wasn’t well liked,” she said.
Ms Branscheid reported several incidents to the nursing board and Aged Rights Advocacy.
She become the man’s legal guardian and remained at Oakden until he died.
“I did see some good changes after [reporting to the nurses board],” she said.
“People left, people resigned, staff resigned over what happened then and a new manager of Makk House came in and took over and she was good and I saw some good things happen.
“And then this gentleman died and I had no reason to go back there and I hadn’t thought about the place in many years.”
Ms Branscheid said it was the culture and attitudes of many of the staff that troubled her the most.
“The attitude really was that these people were not that significant because they were old psych patients and they were kind of on the scrap heap, and the standards of aged care just did not seem to apply to them,” she said.
“They are difficult people to work with, but that is no excuse to me.
“I saw aggressive behaviour from the staff towards these people.
“I heard of worse things that other people had seen of people being hit or their arms being twisted behind their back, pushed face first into the mattress, just because they were being noisy and difficult.”
Minister should be given chance to fix issue
Ms Branscheid said she wasn’t surprised to hear the facility was closing, but couldn’t believe there were still reports of mistreatment.
“First I heard that Oakden was closing and I thought ‘oh well, that’s no great loss’,” she said.
“But then hearing that all these incidents had come to light, I just assumed they would have had to move on from that and not still be able to be doing the things that they were doing 15 years ago.”
Ms Branscheid said the Government should be held to account, but believed Mental Health Minister Leesa Vlahos should be given a chance to fix the issue.
“It’s not just this minister’s fault, other ministers have come and gone and they’ve done nothing,” Ms Branscheid said.
“Give this minister a chance, maybe she can fix it, maybe she’s going to have to fix it now.”
Earlier today, Ms Vlahos admitted she didn’t read the report into Oakden until four days after it was handed into her office.
She said she decided to let her staff read the report first and make recommendations before she went through it over the Easter break.
Ms Vlahos denied she held off on reading it to avoid questions in Parliament.
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