Families of the alleged victims of nurse Garry Steven Davis, 28, a nurse formerly employed at a Newcastle aged care facility operated by SummitCare, have called for stricter regulation of care providers in NSW.
Mr Davis is accused of killing Gwen Fowler, 83, Ryan Kelly, 81 and attempting to murder Audrey Manuel, 90.
Now the families of two of Mr Davis’ alleged victims are calling for stricter regulation and improved care for aged care residents across New South Wales.
Teacher, Julie Ross, 61, is the daughter of one of Mr Davis’ alleged victims. She said, “Throughout our Mum’s time at SummitCare, we as a family had concerns about the standard of care it provided to its residents. We regularly found that there was rarely any security in place and anybody could gain access to the home. Outbreaks of gastro were common-place. My mum needed assistance to the toilet, which we found to be infrequently provided. On one occasion we found mum lying in her own faeces.
In an attempt to improve the experience of residents at the home, we did try and speak with managers. This proved difficult because of a high turnover of staff. I also personally volunteered to run a milk bar and cooking classes for the residents.
Although we were concerned about practices at the home, we could never have imagined that a situation like this could occur in which a nurse employed there could come to be accused of murdering our mother. Obviously, this has been devastating for our entire family. We hope to find answers as to how this could be allowed to happen from the criminal case and our own private action. Our main concern is that we honour the memory of our mother and ensure that this does not happen to anyone else.”
Her sister Gail Russ, 64, also a retired teacher, said, “Following the tragic events at the aged care facility at Quakers Hill, sprinkler systems became mandatory in all care homes in New South Wales. We think that if something as simple as CCTV had been installed in public areas of the home, potentially my mum would still be here today, and a lot of police time would have been saved. We would like to see such systems become mandatory in New South Wales.”
Carol Kelly-Moore, is a registered nurse whose father Ryan Kelly was one of Mr Davis’s alleged victims, added, “Having worked in Aged Care facilities, I know the pressure that underpaid and overworked staff are under. I have also known instances of insulin being in unlocked fridges, which is extremely dangerous. Dangerous drugs like insulin should only ever be given by an appropriately qualified nurse. I understand that at the time of the alleged crime, Mr Davis was only an assistant in nursing. The fact that he could have had access to the insulin I believe killed my father, shocks me. We need to see regulations covering the administration and storage of dangerous drugs improved before further lives are lost through inappropriate care.”
We have a number of concerns in relation to practices at the home jeopardising the safety of its residents. Criminal proceedings have uncovered potential lapses in the record keeping and access to dangerous drugs like insulin, for example. We are also concerned that staff recruited to do such an important job are often under-qualified and under-paid.
As health lawyers, we see poor care provided to residents of aged care facilities across the country all too frequently. This places the safety of some of the most vulnerable members of our society at risk, and is an unacceptable situation.
Often, pursuing common-law claims against such facilities is the only way that families can seek accountability and redress for the suffering of their relatives, and encourage positive change to ensure that what they have been through does not happen to anyone else.
If you have a loved one in an aged care facility who you believe is not receiving adequate care, we can help advocate for you. If a loved one has been injured or died in an aged care facility – and you believe the injury or death could have been avoided or was a result of negligent care – talk to us about the options available to you.