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Royal commission in the age of ancient care: the question of Oakden's queue



A woman who has struck a massive abuse of patients with dementia in a sick home in Adelaide has asked the royal commissioner for old care to use the evidence she hears to repair the damaged system.

Barb Spriggs, whose husband Bob died in 2016 after having been abused and hypersensitive to Oakden, appeared as the first witness before Monday's investigation, and became emotional when he told about the terrible treatment he had received. She wondered why her fears had been suppressed or ignored for so long, and told reporters, according to her testimony, that it was still painful to tell her family's story.

She said, however, that the commission would have a lot of material to work with to reform and improve the sector, hoping to "set a scene" for others to tell stories to them.

"I hope they can use all the evidence they can make the changes that need to be made," she said.

The shocking treatment of patients with dementia at Oakden has partly prompted the Royal Commission, which will have evidence from supporters and industry groups, physicians and people receiving institutional and home care. In her evidence Mrs. Spriggs said she still did not know exactly what had happened to her husband and why others did not see how bad the conditions were in Oakden.

"I did not have to fight for months to hear them," she said.

"I could easily decide that it was not all the trouble because I stood against so many brick walls." Ms Spriggs criticized the lack of responsibility in the aging care sector and questioned whether her abusive spouses were still working on other facilities. She called for people to have access to information, especially if they had serious concerns.

"There must be a very clear path that everyday person can watch if they or someone who cares about experience is a problem," she said. "There has to be a much simpler and more complicated way to travel." Ms Spriggs says CCTV cameras should be installed in all common areas in care centers for aging children and should be used in private areas.

In her evidence, her son, Clive, called for the creation of a national database of older workers to prevent accusations of misuse or lack of care simply moving between establishments or between states.

"It will do for doctors and other medical professions, so I do not see any reason why it should not be done for older care," he said.

In other testimonies Monday, the representative of the Aging Council, Ian Yates, said that it is really important for senior care providers to encourage people to submit complaints as a quality assurance mechanism. "You want people to say what's wrong," he said.


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