After, Len and Faith left I just laid there in tears. Tears because I had just told my beautiful Len that it was over, and I wanted him to find someone better, and tears of anger and frustration because I knew that this nursing home was going to be my forever home.
I was in a room with three ladies, two were non verbal and just seem to lay there staring at nothing and the third lady was directly opposite me and she seemed to pull herself up and sit and lookout towards the doorway and sometimes look at me.
We were in a old hospital so there was no walls just curtains dividing us ladies, and sometimes I could see everything the nurses were doing as they tended to forget to use the curtains. The lady opposite me was named Sharon, and the nurses told me she apparently used to be a prostitute and an ice addict, and she ended up having a overdose leaving her with brain damage. They also told me that she also had a teenage daughter who lived in Queensland and she never got to see her.
The days came and went in the nursing home; breakfast was toast and Milo, lunch was a hot meal, and dinner was half a sandwich along with a banana and Milo; very shitty meals except for lunch which I always ate. The tea ladies brought biscuits and a cuppa twice daily if you wanted one.
My bed baths were twice a week, and it was so degrading having a male nurse clean and wipe my whole body, including my bum and vagina, and wash and dress me and change the adult nappies I wore because I was incontinent following the stroke, and I had only ever had been with Len.
It was something that I dreaded daily, and I would try to get the female nurses onside so I could get them to wash and change me, it worked 40% of the time as some nurses thought I was being a baby and would laugh and tell me “We’re all nurses, you know that, right?”.
Len visited me every other day, and although I had told him to move on and find someone else he still came.
He would buy me a can of drink from the vending machines and sit there all day watching me sleep or we’d just watch TV together, and believe me I was so happy and grateful to see him visit.
Faith visited me on the weekends, and I was so excited knowing she was coming. I would ask the nurses to grab some snacks and lollies from the vending machines for me just so I had a nice surprise for her. When Faith walked into my room she would run up to my bed and climb in with me and we would cuddle and kiss then lay together watching cartoons or movies, munching on snacks. Faith and I spoke on the phone or through Facebook every night, and the night times spent talking to my beautiful daughter gave me the strength to face another day living in a nursing home.
I had been living in this nursing home a few weeks and started to notice that things weren’t right, there seemed to be this clicky group of nurses on certain shifts who just seemed to treat the residents like shit.
They had evidently been doing it for a long time as they had become blasé to everyone and everything around them. When I first saw and heard a nurse tell this poor old man, who was in a wheelchair and only had one leg that needed to go to the toilet, her words exactly were “FUCKEN WAIT YOUR TURN LIKE EVERYONE ELSE and SHIT YOURSELF FOR ALL I CARE”.
I couldn’t believe what she just said to him, and I was scared and felt helpless and just laid there not game enough to press the buzzer to ask for anything unless a nice nurse would come into our room.
Len and Faith came to visit me one day and we were sitting there talking, then the next minute the nurse was abusing a resident because they took their dirty nappy off, getting poop everywhere. The nurse, yelling abuse “ FUCKEN HELL YOU COULD HAVE BUZZED, SHOULD LEAVE YOU IN YOUR FUCKEN SHIT, FUCK NOW I HAVE TO FIND TIME TO SHOWER YOU” My husband and daughter were horrified and he asked me if this is like this every minute of the day? I replied telling him it was only certain staff and no, not every minute of the day. He wanted to report it and I begged him not to complain, fearing what would happen if he did.
Weeks went by and every time those staff were on they continued to treat the residents wrongfully, and I felt so helpless not being able to help them, So I started using my mobile phone discretely to video the way these nurses would slap, swear, throw them around roughly, take their visitors gifts and eat them, sit on their mobile phones instead of feeding them, and physically force residents to do things they didn’t want to do.
I recorded all these on video and found a lovely nurse on nightshift who would bring me beautiful home cooked meals to contact the ACAT Team for me and give them my number. A week went by then the ACAT came out and I showed them my videos of what was happening there; they were blown away.
Several staff were charged with elder abuse and sacked and others got written warnings.
Over the next few days the other nurses somehow found out that I dobbed, so then some nurses started treating me like shit and leaving me in shitty nappies for 8 hrs +, spitting in my food and only showering me one day per week.
I couldn’t tell Len what was happening because he was already stressed out and I couldn’t go home, and I didn’t want to live there like that, so one night I tucked my phone in my chest under my nightie and got the buzzer cord and wrapped it around my neck, and then covered myself with a sheet. When the nurse found me I was blue, so the Ambulance came and the nurse put oxygen on me whilst the policeman handcuffed my arm to the bed and they loaded me up and took me to the Mater Hospital Psychiatric Unit.
After the Ambo and Police left the psychiatric doctor visited me, and the doctor said to me, “I know nursing homes aren’t home but things could be worse!”
So without a word I pulled out my phone and said to the doctor that I don’t want to die, I just wanted things to STOP, and that I couldn’t continue to live like that.
The doctor was shockee and said that they had heard bad things about the nursing home but until now never had proof. He asked if I wanted to pursue this and I begged him shaking in tears not to pursue it or to send me back there. He said that I would stay in the Mater and get the help needed to deal with what I had been through, until they find a better nursing home.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Luke Pearson is a Gamilaroi man, and is the founder and CEO of IndigenousX.