Grief at mum’s aged home tragedy

Joyce Cockerell was assaulted by another resident at the Ballina nursing home.
Joyce Cockerell was assaulted by another resident at the Ballina nursing home. Contributed

WHEN Valmai Earle walked into Ballina's St Andrew's Nursing Home to visit her mother in August 2012 she couldn't believe what she saw.

Mrs Earle said her mother, 86-year-old Joyce Cockerell, was bruised and bandaged.

She was told her mother had been assaulted by another resident.

"I got the fright of my life because I hadn't been no-tified, and when I walked into her room she was black and blue, her legs were purple, her arm was bandaged and she was sitting in her chair," she said.

Soon Mrs Cockerell was moved to another room in the nursing home.

But the problems didn't end there.

On April 14 the following year, Mrs Cockerell was desperate to go to the toil-et, her daughter said, and called out to staff for assistance.

"When help didn't come she decided to go to the toilet by herself, without her walker, and she fell," Mrs Earle said.

"She was found on the bathroom floor suffering a broken hip and she had been there for an unknown amount of time while there was only one staff member on between noon and 2.45pm."

Doctors were unable to operate on Mrs Cockerell's hip, and she died 10 days later - leaving the family distraught.

Mrs Earle said she lodged a complaint with the Aged Care Complaints Scheme about the staff response to her mother's fall, her pain management after being assaulted, supervision of the resident who carried out the alleged assault, and neglecting to contact the family after incidents involving her mother.

The Aged Care Complaints Scheme recommended St Andrew's staff undergo further training and closed the case.

St Andrew's chief executive Pip Carter declined to comment on Mrs Cockerell's case, saying it was a separate incident from the current investigation at the home.

Topics:  assault nursing home murders

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