Australians are increasingly shunning aged care services, turning to in-home support for their loved ones.
As many as 11 people a day are dying in Australian care homes from COVID-19 related illnesses.
Melbourne woman Maria Sampey is among the thousands who have withdrawn loved ones from facilities around the country.
Her 100-year-old mother, Vittoria Primerano, is now being cared for at home because of “awful treatment” that Ms Sampey believes is a symptom of a broken system.
Staff were run off their feet and kept forgetting to feed and hydrate her mum, she said.
“The aged care facility enforced their own (COVID-19) restrictions, where it made it impossible to check she was being cared for,” she said.
“I knew I had to get her out.”
A royal commission in Victoria investigated COVID-19 outbreaks in the aged care sector but Ms Sampey wasn’t satisfied.
People were too scared to complain for fear of repercussions, she said.
“The nursing homes are a law unto themselves, and my complaints fell on deaf ears,” she said.
“I felt like I was in a corner beating my head against a brick wall, there was and is no action happening.”
There have been more than 1500 COVID deaths in aged care homes so far this year, with at least one fatality recorded across 596 facilities.
At the height of the pandemic 176,000 people were using home care services, a significant increase on the 51,000 people receiving support a decade earlier.
In-home equipment providers like Solace Sleep have noticed the surge, particularly in Victoria.
Lockdowns that prevented families checking on relatives in aged care were a major concern, founder Darren Nelson said.
“That was one of the major things — people really were desperate for their family members to avoid aged care,” he said.
Anika Wells, who was sworn in as the new federal aged care minister on Wednesday, has been contacted for comment.