GROWING CONCERN: An aged care advocate has called for a Royal Commission into the industry.
GROWING CONCERN: An aged care advocate has called for a Royal Commission into the industry. Mike Knott BUN200217TRICARE9

Bundaberg aged care death is raising concerns

AN 87-YEAR-OLD woman who lived at TriCare Bundaberg has died as an aged care advocate ramps up her calls for a royal commission.

The elderly woman was taken to hospital on Wednesday, January 17, with multiple injuries and died in hospital on Friday, February 2.

A Bundaberg police spokesman confirmed the death but said no charges were pending and a report to the coroner was being prepared.

But aged care advocate Heather Mansell-Brown believes the death may have been preventable if there were more staff members on the floor.

A TriCare spokesman said its obligations under privacy legislation prevented it from responding to the NewsMail's questions about the death.

"In addition, we are prevented from responding at this stage as this particular matter has been referred to the Coroner for investigation, which is standard practice in this circumstance," the spokesman said.

The NewsMail has obtained an internal memo sent to all TriCare staff on February 9 warning them not to respond to requests from any resident family member, member of the public or media outlet via social media.

"Unfortunately, for some time now there has been a concerted media and social networking campaign by certain resident representatives to bring TriCare Bundaberg into disrepute," the email read.

"If you are feeling in anyway pressured, bullied or harassed by these instances we are here to support you," it said.

Ms Mansell-Brown said she would not be intimidated into silence on such an important issue.

"The more aged care facilities cut staff, the worse it's going to get," she said.

She said she was not surprised by this week's audit reports into Blue Care's Pioneer Lodge and Meilene Residential Aged Care, which showed the facilities had failed 13 and nine of the 44 quality standards, respectively.

She said that was why a royal commission was needed, so people who knew the ugly side of aged care could speak freely.

"There are a lot of really good age care facilities out there.

"There are some beautiful homes and wonderful carers that get dragged down by those who are not doing the right thing."

A Bundaberg aged care crisis meeting will be held at 6.30pm on Thursday, March 15, at the Bundaberg Bowls Club.

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