Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Thursday, December 20, 2007

An Elderly Woman suffering from Dementia sent to lock-up

This is an tragic story about an Dementia Patient.Surprisingly it happened in so called developed nation - Australia.The state is unable to provide Care and Home for Dementia people.Read the story:

AN ELDERLY dementia sufferer who tried to kill herself, and allegedly her husband, has been sent to jail because state and federal authorities have been unable to find accommodation for her in the community.

The woman's guardian, the Office of the Public Advocate, has condemned the jailing as a breach of her human rights.

Police escorted the Greek-born woman, 75, who speaks little English and is clinically depressed, to the high-security Dame Phyllis Frost Centre on Monday. She is living in the jail's psychiatric unit while awaiting a committal hearing.

Acting Public Advocate Barbara Carter said the woman's situation was "appalling" and reflected severe gaps in the medical and community care systems.

"She needs care and supervision. She should not be in jail," Ms Carter said. "We believe she may be a risk to herself and others … If she did not have dementia and depression, it is likely she would be at home on bail."

The woman's son, Nick, who is awaiting clearance to visit her in prison, said she was disorientated and agitated by her sudden incarceration after a five-month stay at the St George's Hospital in Kew, part of the extended St Vincent's health service.

The woman had been a patient in the psycho-geriatric ward but the hospital decided to discharge her this week because she no longer needed acute care. She had previously been granted bail by a magistrate on the basis that she stay in the hospital.

Victoria's Office of the Public Advocate, a statutory body which advocates for disabled people, did not agree to the discharge but could not prevent it.

The woman, who faces a charge of attempted murder arising from the alleged attack on her 82-year-old husband, also a dementia sufferer, is yet to even face a committal hearing. Her mental fitness to make a plea in court has not been determined. If a trial proceeds, it could be up to a year before her case is heard, according to Victoria Legal Aid.

The attempted murder charge stems from the woman's failed attempt to allegedly end her sick husband's life by stabbing him with a kitchen knife during a visit to his nursing home. She also stabbed herself and it is believed sustained more serious wounds.

Nick said his mother was not coping well in jail. "She said she couldn't bear to be there for long," he said.

The woman's solicitor, Sarah Rozenbes, said the situation was "tragic". "It's a systemic failure," she said. "The hospital, aged care authorities and Victoria's Department of Human Services have all let her down."

Federal aged care assessors say she is not suitable for either a hostel or nursing home place.

Ms Carter called upon the Department of Human Services to intervene at a senior level.

"A humane society would find a more appropriate solution than placing her on remand," she said. "This is not a matter for the courts. The responsibility lies in the health care system, which has failed her."

A Department of Human Services spokesman said last night efforts were being made to find accommodation and the woman's safety and welfare was being monitored.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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