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Elderly found with maggots infesting their mouths

aged care royal commission hears of elderly residents mouths infested with maggots

Elderly residents were found with maggots infesting their mouths according to evidence provided to the aged care royal commission yesterday

Rejane Le Grange, acting business manager of Germanus Kent House and Bran Nue Dae Day Community Centre in Broome, was questioned about the incidents at an aged care royal commission hearing in the Kimberley town on Tuesday.

In one case, family members of a respite client found maggots in a wound and in another case, maggots were discovered infesting the mouth of a palliative care client.

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During the questioning of Le Grange, Counsel assisting Mr Bolster posed the question “Is it fair to say this, that during the course of one evening, in the wet season when flies would have been a considerable problem up here, have obviously laid eggs in the mouth of the patient or the resident and that with the incubation time of flies being a number of hours, there was a – there was an incubation and there were maggots in the – in the gums of the resident.

Ms Le Grange replied “That’s correct.  I don’t know if it happened at night-time but I do know that there’s an incubation period of about eight hours.  I know that the resident had poor ability to chew so there was food pooling and moisture pooling in her mouth.”

Health care system failing elderly residents in remote areas

In a statement provided to the commission of inquiry by Dr Martin Laverty of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Dr  Laverty said the primary health care system was failing older Australians in remote areas where services were deficient.

“Our dentists employed by the RFDS who have traditionally had the role of flying into remote communities to conduct visiting dental clinics are now adding in visits to residential aged care services, on a roster, by invitation of the accredited aged care provider.  And what our experience is, is that when we are visiting these services, acknowledged at very small numbers of visits and very small numbers of patient seen to date, is that, first, there is an absence of awareness among the care staff to the importance of oral health

Anecdotally, we are being told that there isn’t the time within the workload of some care staff to be able to brush teeth, to support brushing teeth for residents, that when our dentists are able to train the care staff on how best to provide oral care to residents of residential aged care services, on a return visit our dentists will observe that there has been an improvement in the oral health of those residents.”

“The longer you are able to maintain your health through access to adequate primary care, the longer you are likely to avoid the necessity of access to the formal aged care setting. We are letting older Australians down by a failure of the primary medical care system in remote Australia.’

“The commission has an opportunity to articulate a reasonable standard. It then requires resourcing.”

He said the usually emergency-focused RFDS was now responding to requests from aged care service providers for help with dental care – and there appeared to be little awareness among staff about the importance of oral health.

“Anecdotally we’re being told there isn’t the time within the workload of some care staff to be able to brush teeth, to support brushing teeth.”

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