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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Seven Days until Christmas

Seven days to go until Christmas and I have not even got one Christmas decoration, no tree or anything. This has all come so fast. For a while I didn't think we would do much for Christmas this year, being so sad, but I have got some shopping in and my sister is giving me a frozen turkey so I had better cook it. I am behind in the house work and am very tired but I will catch up tomorrow.

I am now looking forward to Christmas Day, a bit anyway. I will try to make it a happy occasion for everyone who comes.  My Mum and my two sons living in Adelaide will be there so it should be alright as long as Arthur doesn't get too tired.

Arthur is watching the Australia v England Test Cricket matches on TV and for once I want England to win. Even my mother says she doesn't mind England winning if it makes Arthur happy, and that is saying something for Mum. She is usually red-hot to see the Aussies beat the Poms. If it is a good close Test then it will be good for everyone.

I fell down the front steps yesterday and ended up with a twisted ankle. I so hate steps. I think that the elimination of steps should be a core subject for architects.

I least I have bought a Lions Christmas Pudding,

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Island Asylum Seeker Boat Tragedy.

The tragedy at Christmas Island yesterday when so many men, women and children were killed when their boat was dashed against the rocks in the high seas is shocking and so sad. The fear, pain and terror these people experienced before they died or were rescued is beyond comprehension.

The circumstances they are fleeing must be desperate indeed to try to reach Australia by so dangerous a course.

I am ashamed and appalled by the reaction of some people who are filling the talk-back radio airwaves and online comments sections with hatred and lack of compassion for the helpless, desperate, grieving and the dead. I wish we were a better nation than that.

I am going to ring some talk-back radio programs and challenge some of the misinformation that is being quoted by ill-informed people about asylum seekers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Community Visitor Scheme.

Arthur's Community Visitor, Vicki,  was introduced to Arthur today when Lee, the co-ordinator of the scheme brought Vicki around to meet him. Vicki does not live all that far from us, and knows some of our nieghbours. Vicki is a nice woman and Arthur was happy to talk to her about his history.

Lee said Vicki had had all her Volunteer checks including a Police History Check and that Lee would be reviewing our progress periodically to see that all is okay.

I intend to tape some of the sessions when Arthur talks about his life so I can have a record. Maybe one day I can write a book about him. Vicki's children are grown and she has a grandson. Arthur seemed happy to have some-one new to talk to and the visit cheered him up. I am glad a volunteer like Vicki has taken the time to help someone else.


(photobucket.com)

Complaints Team Returns Call.

The nice woman from the Complaints Team called me today. She advised me that she had spoken to the Program Team who have advised her that she can take my complaint. She said she would enter into the complaints system and that a letter would be sent to me. I am hoping I can get some answers about the administration costs taken out of Arthur's package.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Nurse Arrives. Skin Integrity Scare.

Just when I thought all was well, Arthur has a tender spot on his bottom where his bone is close to the surface. The nurse came today and applied a dressing that helps to protect the skin from breaking down.We are worried he may get a bedsore.  I am going to use pillows to alternate the pressure points. Arthur can only lay on his back so I position him in such a way to change the weight-bearing areas.

He has a memory-foam mattress that was very expensive, which is supposed to help prevent bed sores, especially when I use positioning cushions. I am changing Arthur's position a number of times a day and encouraging him to release the pressure on his hips by raising them while holding the bed pole. Arthur still has strength in his arms and shoulders. I am getting a lot of information from the Mayo Clinic online.

After his wash in the hospital bed in the lounge-room the two workers were going to leave. One said she understood that they were wash him, make him comfortable in that bed and then leave.  The other worker, who is from a relief agency was happy to do anything Arthur needed. I referred to Arthur's care plan and advised that there was nothing to say they couldn't help nim get out of bed and walk into his bedroom where I could put him back in his own bed. They then did help him to do that, but the nurse who was there said she would check with XX service provider to see if they were allowed to do it. I explained I was trying to limit the number of Arthur's transfers I did on my own so I did not get exhausted too quickly.

It will all come down to time, depending on how much they can do in an half hour. The workers get really pressed for time.  I have had workers come who have been double booked and need to shortchange each client to get them both done, and workers who are booked for consecutive clients with no travelling time factored in to the roster and too little time allowed for the number of things they need to do for a client.  I am not sure how XX service provider's workers are treated, as they are in and out so quickly that I do not get to talk to them very much, and I shouldn't expect much to be revealed when there are two here together.

Arthur is comfortable now and as it will be 35 degrees Celsius today, I will put the air-conditioner on for him. 

(Note: I am not naming service providers, hence  XX, who is Arthur's current provider, a different one from X, our previous provider mentioned in earlier posts.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aged Care Complaints Investigation Unit.

I made a few calls today to find out about care at home packages. I called the Commonwealth Respite Centre and the very helpful officer gave me information on respite options. I also spoke about my experiences with X provider of home care services and my wish to speak to someone about it. I also asked her about administering our own EACH package. She told me about Consumer Directed Care packages, where a provider still administers the program but the consumer is much more involved in designing the program. She also gave me a complaints number.

I then rang the Aged Care Complaints Investigation Team in the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. I explained that according to their website an EACH package provides a subsidy of $120.50 per day towards Arthur's care expenses. The package can give up to 15 hours care a week. This, from my calculations, is over $42,000 a year that X provider gets to deliver care to Arthur.

I explained that Arthur was getting about 15 hours a week care before he went into hospital and rehabilitation this year. When he came home his hours were dropped to 7 hours a week. This is made up of 2 care-workers giving an 1/2 hour of personal care each morning. (One half hour with two workers = 1 hour).

Arthur gets his creams a lotions supplied and incontinence pads, of which he uses 2 per day. He can also have a nurse to visit and provide wound care if he has a skin breakage that needs dressing. He has not needed any of that for at least a year or so as I am very good at taking care of his skin.

I know his equipment costs about $75 per week as that is what I was told would be freed up from the funds if we bought Arthur his own equipment. (Bed pole, bed grab stick, rollator, toilet raiser and two raised chairs etc.)

For his daily wash , Arthur is supplied with some wash lotion and moisturiser which could not come to more than $5 a week.

His incontinence pads are supplied. I checked, and the cost, retail, is about $1.20 each. Providers order in the thousands a year and must get them cheaper than retail, but anyway, that works out at $2.40 per day or just $16.80 per week. Lets make it $18 to be generous.


Looking at the industry award, an aged care worker on weekly wages gets between $580 (grade 1) and $862 (grade 9) per week depending on their pay grade. They get extra for weekend shifts and a 150% loading for public holiday work. Even at the highest grade that is only $22.68 per hour. The most they can get is $56.70 per hour for working on a holiday, plus whatever other allowances there are. If Arthur had two grade 9 workers for 1 hour on a holiday it is still only going to cost about 60 or 70 dollars. For an ordinary week for his 7 hours of services, the labour charge cannot conceivably be more than 7 x $25 or $175 per week as he probably would not be getting grade 9 workers every day or every week. Even adding an extra $20 pw to cover public holidays, it is still only $195 pw. Lets make it $200. No let's be really generous, make it $220.

He is entitled to a nurse for wound-care, though I was warned that if he needed a nurse too much, he might get his hours of personal care cut down from seven. To what I do not know, nil maybe? I will allocate $50 per week for that, $2,500 per year should be enough to cover the little he may need. After all it is zero dollars now for nursing.

So lets add it up, per week.
Equipment $75
Pads $18
Creams $5
Workers $220
Nurse $50

Total = $378

So I have $378 pw as Arthur's in-home services costs.
His provider is allocated $120.50 per DAY for his care. That is $840 per week.

(Am I, I ask you, entitled to ask where the damn hell the rest of his funding, the approximately $450 a week goes?)

So I gave the gist of the figures to the lady on the other end of the phone from the complaints team, and she pointed out they only dealt with complaints about his standard of care. I advised I did not think he was getting the level of care his funding provided for and that we were getting only one visit a day. I explained that challenging X provider resulted in a toxic relationship with the family being subject, in my honest opinion, to bullying and hostility on the part of x provider.

She took on board my complaint, that Arthur is only getting 7 hours care when he should be getting more like 15 hours of care. How the EACH program is supposed to meet its aims for the client in just 7 hours a week, is beyond my comprehension. My complaint that the Dept of Health and Ageing was paying over $42,000 per year for their client, Arthur, to receive care and that it looks like he is not getting adequate services for the money, was not something her area takes on. I pointed out that between the funds being disbursed by the department to the provider and the workers walking in Arthur's door, over 50% of the funds were gone. How could it be that any government program be administered in such a way that over 50% of the funds are taken up with program costs? How is that efficient for the government who is expecting the funds to address needs? How is it fair, just and equitable for the client?

I was assured my program level complaint would be sent to the Programs area of the department and the officer also took my phone number for a callback. I hope I receive one. My complaint about care hour reductions will be investigated.

I told the complaints officer I was concerned on two levels, both as it affected our family personally and for the wider community of aged people depending on government funding packages to remain at home and in good health.

Next I am going to look into Consumer Directed Care Packages, and I am formulating my complaint about our treatment by x provider over the last year when we have been advocating for Arthur to have his level of services retained.

I will keep this blog posted with the progress.

(Note: I am not naming the provider hence the X.)