An 84-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease has suffered severe bruising from the alleged misuse of a bed hoist at a troubled aged care home in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

The woman’s daughter said she has been left “devastated” by the incident, which left her mother with extensive bruising under her arms.

Anna Shearman’s mother was badly bruised after the alleged misuse of a bed hoist at her aged care home.

Anna Shearman received a phone call from staff at the Bupa Templestowe facility on November 5 to inform her that her mother, Theano, had a bruise under her arm, but staff were unable to explain why.

When Shearman arrived at the nursing home, where her mother has lived since 2017, she said she couldn’t believe the severity of her mother’s injury.

“I was horrified at what I saw … this was not a little bruise. It extends from her breast to her armpit and across her breastbone. I knew there had to be some sort of trauma that has caused it,” she said.

Shearman said she was told by staff that medication most likely caused the bruising, but she didn’t believe it and demanded an investigation.

‘Can you not see that you are squashing somebody, can you not see the distress on someone’s face?’

That investigation revealed that the wrong slings for the bed hoist were being used for her mother, who is immobile from the chest down, for more than a week.

“It was meant for a resident that was 18 kilos lighter, so that is quite a significant difference in weight, so they were squishing her into this for days,” Shearman said.

“Can you not see that you are squashing somebody, can you not see the distress on someone’s face?”

Bupa has apologised to Shearman.

Aged Care Quality and Safety commissioner Janet Anderson.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Shearman said she has lodged a complaint with the regulator, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC).

“I was quite devastated for mum that she has to live with such indignity and such lack of respect for people that are meant to be caring for her,” she said.

Bupa Templestowe was sanctioned by the regulator earlier this year.

In March, the ACQSC issued a non-compliance order after the facility failed seven out of eight standards.

The regulator found the facility to be an “immediate and severe risk to the safety, health or well-being of care recipients”.

It was stripped of federal funding for new residents for four months and had to appoint an independent adviser for eight months.

The non-compliance order expired last Friday.

Dr Sarah Russell, a public health researcher and aged care advocate, said the sanctions were serious.

Aged care advocate Sarah Russell.

“There are several stages before you get sanctioned, and to actually get sanctioned – which means you can’t take any more residents and you don’t get funding – that is a very serious sanction,” Russell said.

“I can’t tell you how bad that is to fail seven out of eight standards. It’s appalling.”

At the end of July, the ACQSC allowed the Bupa home to accept new residents again.

An email sent to family members from Bupa Templestowe “congratulate[d] the team who have put in a great effort and a lot of work to ensure we are meeting all of our care obligations under the standards”.

Shearman said despite some improvements, the home was not ready to accept new residents because of what she described as a lack of training and education for carers.

She also claimed that without the independent adviser, she would not have learned what really happened to her mother.

Bupa said it was “very sorry” the incident happened and that it had taken steps to ensure it didn’t occur again, had implemented new procedures and improved staff training.

ACQSC commissioner Janet Anderson said: “Where we find evidence of immediate and severe risk of harm to consumers, we take action to ensure providers address the risks and that those in their care are safe.”

It’s been almost two years since the Royal Commission into Aged Care made 148 recommendations to reform and improve the sector, but Shearman believes there has been little change.

“I think that the tragic part about the royal commission is that nothing further has been done or achieved that is visible to us … if you care for people you need to respect them, you need to treat them with dignity,” she said.

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