Territory Stories

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001



Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001

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Parliamentary Record 27


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 28 February 2001 alleviate the problems affecting the family. There was no long-term plan put in place at that time. Rather, there was respite for the family and talk about developing a long-term plan to support this lady until a nursing home bed could be found. Whilst I was away on a family holiday over Christmas, this plan which was put in place fell apart for some reason. My constituent was forced to drive his mother to Perth to find a nursing home bed. This was done with the full compliance of the department, which funded the petrol for the trip, as this elderly Territorian had a heart condition and could not fly. The only alternative presented to my constituent was that his mother be accommodated at RDH until a nursing home bed became available, and he was given no indication as to how long he would have to wait. The department even assisted him in finding a nursing home in Perth. And the minister has the gall to come in here today and state that we are not in crisis due to the lack of nursing home beds! He has the gall to come in here and say there is no problem when his very own department is saying: Your best option is to go to Perth, and heres the petrol money to get you there. My constituent has had crises and stress in attempting to get adequate care for his mother; and the department could only offer RDH or a one-way car trip in the middle of summer to Perth. This was followed up very shortly by calls from a desperate Darwin businessman who had only just moved his mother and father from Perth, ironically, to live with them and very quickly his father, very sadly, was struck with an aggressive form of dementia. This affected him and his family very quickly and, without going into the traumatic detail, his father had to be accommodated and assessed at RDH as the family could no longer cope with looking after his father at home. Again, the only place this elderly person could be accommodated was Royal Darwin Hospital. The family was advised that, because of the complex symptoms he was displaying, he would have to wait for a specialist to visit from interstate to perform a thorough assessment. And this minister says we dont have a crisis in terms of some of our aged care services in the Northern Territory! The family members were beside themselves because they could get no clear indication from Royal Darwin Hospital as to his prognosis, the options available for his ongoing care, and the time frame he could expect to be accommodated in a nursing home. They were advised it could be up to two years, and I am advised by the family that someone at RDH also said it could be in their best interests to take their father back to Perth. Again, I called the ministerial adviser who briefed me on the case and I attempted to placate the family. I, too, have been through similar circumstances with my fathers aggressive form of dementia, and I certainly had empathy for what the family was going through. The ministerial adviser stated there were no definitive options available, apart from an extended stay at Royal Darwin Hospital, until a nursing home bed became available. During this time I also contacted a number of non-govemment organisations who provide services for seniors in Darwin. This included the ANF, who the minister so constantly maligns in this House, who do a wonderful job representing our hard working nursing staff in the Northern Territory. Every NGO that works in this area, and the ANF, stated there was a significant problem at RDH with up to 30 people at any one time waiting for nursing home beds, some of whom have been at RDH for a considerable time. Let us move to some of the statements that the minister made in this verbiage before us today. He says that my press release quoted - and it did - the fact that we are accommodating people who are nursing home appropriate at Royal Darwin Hospital. I said that it was placing an extra burden on Royal Darwin Hospital by creating, and he quotes: ... delays in casualty. Well, of course it causes delays in casualty. The term used is bedblock, where we have people in casualty who require admittance up to the wards, and we have a significant number of people in acute care beds who cannot be moved through to nursing home accommodation because sufficient beds are not available. Of course we will have bedblock in Accident and Emergency - and there will be delays. The minister says that statement is wrong. Will he explain to me how having up to 30 people at any one time at Royal Darwin Hospital in acute beds does not contribute to bedblock in the emergency department? He also mentioned my quote that it would lead to delays in people going in for elective surgery. Again the same scenario applies. We have people who are nursing home appropriate in acute care beds. Of course they are taking up resources and beds in the hospital that would otherwise be available to people who require admittance for other reasons and for elective surgery. Again, for him to say that is wrong just shows his ignorance of how our hospital system operates. There is also my claim about longer waiting lists for hospital beds, and people suffering dementia walking around the wards of Royal Darwin Hospital. I mentioned the case of the businessman and his father. The father was on extensive medication to contain his particular condition. The businessman 7513