Aged care facility isn't 'a proper life', royal commission hears

The aged care commission is underway in Sydney. Source: AAP

An aged care resident has told a Sydney inquiry about the loss she felt when she moved into the facility, which she described as an institution, not a home.

An 84-year-old woman has recalled the loss she felt when she moved into a Melbourne residential aged care facility, describing it as an institution rather than a home.

Merle Mitchell told a hearing of the aged care royal commission in Sydney on Monday the experience was like losing a way of life.

"There's just that feeling that this isn't a proper life ... (you're) told this is your home now ... well it's not, it's an institution," she told the inquiry.

aged care
Ascreenshot from a video of Merle Mitchell giving evidence during the Royal Commission into Aged Care.

Ms Mitchell said staff don't have time to support residents and, as a result, she's watched many lose their cognitive abilities.

She arranged, at her own cost, external counselling to help with the transition.

"Suddenly I'm in an institution, I have to follow what the institution wants, the time to get up, the time to have meals and there's no choice," Ms Mitchell said.

"You lose your choice totally when you come into aged care."

The elderly woman believes all aged care facilities should have counsellors available for residents and staff.

Safety fears

The royal commission on Monday also heard from Darryl Melchhart who moved into a Melbourne aged home in August 2014.

The 90-year-old said she feared for her safety because some residents with dementia became "vicious".

"There was one woman ... she comes up and tries to take my walker away ... she starts banging on my hands and I couldn't hang on any longer, I had to let go," Ms Melchhart said on Monday.

She also recalled one resident with dementia entering her room and walking towards her jewellery box.

Ms Melchhart said when she told the woman to leave she threw an empty cup at her.

"It is our home and we should be entitled to live a normal life, like other people," she said.

The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner received nearly 24,000 complaints of substandard care in residential aged care facilities between June 2012 and December 2018, counsel assisting the commission Peter Gray said.

He said the Sydney hearings would shed light on issues of safety and the quality of care provided to residents.

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