COMING FORWARD: Bundaberg nurse Kylie Miller wants the way aged care is handled to change.
COMING FORWARD: Bundaberg nurse Kylie Miller wants the way aged care is handled to change. Crystal Jones

Woman's claims of bullying and abuse in aged care

A BUNDABERG assistant in nursing has spoken out about what she says is bullying tactics and a lack of care at a Bundaberg nursing home.

Kylie Miller says that when working for Gracehaven in Bundaberg, she was told to take a two-week break following a distressing incident where a male resident exposed himself to her, and claims that after two weeks, while she was still on her probationary period, she was told she was no longer on staff.

Ms Miller says she was never told her job was ending, and has endured hardship as a result.

In the lead-up to the incident, Ms Miller says she was shown a list of names of nurses not allowed into the room with the man, and at first she wasn't told he was a "two-nurse assist".

"The senior nurses just had me believe he was just not a nice person," she said.

"I went in (to the man's room) one time and in a roundabout way he tried to fool me to touch him down there, so when I realised what he was doing I decided to go into the bathroom and just clean his dentures, and when I did and turned around to walk out, here he is having a really good go with himself."

A shocked Ms Miller reported the incident.

After a meeting with Gracehaven's management, Ms Miller says she was told to take time off and was reassured she was a valued member of staff.

"I was crying, I was so grateful that they were going to help me through this because it wasn't my fault," she said.

A second meeting was held with regional management and Ms Miller says she was again reassured.

But after the two weeks went past, things went quiet.

She says when she inquired, she was told she had resigned and there was no record of the incidents with the man in question who she alleges exposed himself - despite her reporting that incident and a second one where she says management told the man she had complained and as a consequence he threw things and verbally abused her.

"If you resign you're supposed to sign something," she said.

"They've got it in their records that they couldn't get hold of me. I've got records from Telstra that I made contact with them two days, three days into that two weeks, so they're lying there.

"I did not bloody resign, I was told to take two weeks off for a situation that I should have been supported in."

Ms Miller has also claimed that staffing levels were not adequate for proper levels of care and that at times she was in charge of up to 17 dementia patients or 42 low-care residents on her own.

"I was all on my own and I'm telling you the anxiety was high because when you've got five or six dementia patients walking around trying to get into everything and one's fallen over ... you just don't even know what to do.

"You've got one on the toilet, one on the floor, one trying to get into bed with someone else and you've got to say, 'Now, which one can I leave?'"

Of particular concern, she says, were the times she had to mop floors while alone in the dementia section.

"How dangerous is that?" she says. "Me going into the room where the chemicals are when there's people that could lock me in there or bang me in the back of the head - and whoever's going to find me down there? And what happens when I'm mopping in there and I've got wanderers walking around, how am I supposed to get that done? And what happens if they slip over or something like that?"

Ms Miller says it was difficult to get extra help when she needed it and that she recalled one elderly man sleeping on a mattress on the floor surrounded by cockroaches.

Equally as disturbing, Ms Miller says, is being forced to regularly wash faeces down the sink because the home didn't supply disposable wipes.

"That's where they clean their teeth, their dentures and maybe wash their face because that's their personal sink," she said.

Ms Miller says when she brought in her own wipes, she was told they could cause infection and not to bring them.

In one particularly distressing incident, Ms Miller says an elderly woman was suffering from a genital infection and had to sit with her hips perched up to avoid pain.

She says doctors weren't called.

Ms Miller says she is now concerned about how she could be treated if she continues to work in the industry.

"I put my whole heart into it because I'm so passionate about helping people and being there for them and I just love helping elderly people because they're our mums, our sister, our grandfather, brothers," she said.


OUTBREAK: There has been an outbreak of gastro at the Gracehaven nursing home.
Photo: Zach Hogg / NewsMail
OUTBREAK: There has been an outbreak of gastro at the Gracehaven nursing home. Photo: Zach Hogg / NewsMail Zach Hogg BUN180814GRA2

Gracehaven's response

CHURCHES of Christ Care says it is aware of allegations made by a former staff member in 2015 at the Gracehaven aged care service in Bundaberg.

Director of Seniors and Supported Living Bryan Mason said any time concerns were raised, they were taken seriously and appropriately investigated.

"We take all allegations regarding the treatment of our residents and our staff very seriously and investigate any claims," he said.

"Care and compassion is at the heart of everything we do, and we will never compromise on the provision of quality care to our residents.

"Any concerns were promptly addressed at the time, in line with our stringent procedures, and resolved. We have had no such complaints made by any other parties associated with the service, including residents and their families, or other staff and volunteers.

"We employ highly qualified and appropriately certified clinical care staff to help manage our residents' healthcare needs.

"We have above industry standard staffing levels, and registered nurses rostered 24 hours a day."

Gracehaven aged care service is a 115-bed service that has met the Australian Government's Australian Aged Care Quality Agency accreditation requirements.

Churches of Christ Care says it is committed to seeing quality aged care services delivered in Bundaberg now and in the future.

"We have been caring for Bundaberg seniors for over a decade, and we are committed to ensuring the highest standards, not only for our residents, but for their families and our staff and volunteers," Mr Mason said.

"The team at Gracehaven Aged Care Service has the care of residents at the heart of everything they do, and in a regional location such as Bundaberg, the service has strong ties with the local community.

"We have a good reputation in the community in providing quality care, in Bundaberg and the broader community.

"With long-standing management in place, the service encourages openness and encourage residents, their families and staff to voice their


concerns, and addresses these promptly."

Churches of Christ Care says it is one of the leading not-for-profit providers of residential aged care in Australia, operating 31 residential aged care services throughout Queensland (29) and Victoria (2).

Services meet or exceed accreditation standards, according to Churches of Christ Care.

The organisation says Churches of Christ Care works in many rural and remote areas and has a strong understanding of the challenges these communities face in accessing quality health and care support services.

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