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  • Jane

A Picture is (not always) Worth a Thousand Words


In the photo below, it looks as if me and mum are having the best time. But actually, she was high as a kite, neglected, and the day was a disaster.

On Tuesday I had planned with my dear old uni friend, Linda, to visit mum. Mum and Linda had formed a closeness over the years.*** They hadn’t seen each other since Linda had visited mum and me in the hut while we were isolating in 2020, during the 1st covid. A lot had happened in the three years since then - mum’s dementia, her broken hip and leg, and her move from my home to the facility across the road.

When Linda and I arrived, mum’s room was chaotic, the bed was stripped, with a pile of blankets on the chairs. I opened the windows as the room smelt foul. I called the carers who explained that there was not enough staff to make the bed, tidy the room or help toilet mum. By this time, mum, who must have felt uncomfortable, stuck her hand down her pants... and the rest goes unsaid...

I was furious that mum had been so neglected all day and immediately wrote a letter to the management:

Dear X, XX and XXX,

I would like to bring to your attention the following issues.

Yesterday I was very upset after visiting mum with a family friend around 4.30pm.

Her room was a mess, the bed was stripped and bedding was piled on both the chairs.

More importantly, mum's room smelt strongly of faeces. When I spoke to the staff they said they were very short staffed that day, even more than usual, and hadn’t managed to clean her room, or help her to the toilet.

I noticed mum was uncomfortable and was trying to itch her groin which I assumed was burning her. This demonstrated terrible neglect, but what ensued was all the more shocking as it was witnessed by the family guest.

I realise there is a constant staff shortage but the state of mum’s hygiene, and the lack of staff to toilet her is unacceptable.

There are several other issues I would like to discuss.

Mum’s positioning routine

Mum should not be sitting in her wheelchair all day as she is often hunched over while napping. She needs to rest in her recliner after lunch till dinner. The details can be discussed.


Mum’s tray is often untouched as the staff do not have time to help/encourage her to eat. She will eat small amounts if offered to her. This week she expressed she was hungry.

I can explain what food she eats and how to offer it to her.

Nail hygiene

Mum continues to have faeces under her fingernails. I have mentioned this to staff several times but it seems they forget or do not have time to tend to her dirty, long nails. It is up to me to soak her hands regularly in hot soapy water, clean and cut her nails.

I would be happy to meet up and discuss the above.


Jane Korman

***Linda, a remarkable photographer, has taken many extraordinary family portraits of all of us. One series, called 'The Gift', was exhibited at Parliament house in Canberra in 2020

Having the best time?

Linda Wachtel photographing dad. At the exhibition MoNOW, Fed Square, 2012

Linda's portrait of mum and dad, 2015

Linda's portrait of mum and dad, 2015

Linda's portrait of mum and dad, Celina, Anton, Emma, Sabe & Sienna, 2015


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