Dead from infected feet after just 51 days in aged care, George’s family claim it’s neglect

The son of a man who died from infected foot wounds has said he believed his father was neglected and abused, a claim denied by the nursing home where he lived.

Key points:

  • Operators of the Tenison Residential Aged Care Swansea home reject claims it abused or neglected a man who died from a staph infection
  • George Osgood died in hospital, just 51 days after admission to the aged care facility
  • Seven weeks after Mr Osgood died, the facility met just six of 42 requirements in an ACQSC audit

After several knee operations, George Osgood lacked the lower leg strength needed to keep his feet on the footplates of the wheelchair he used in the Tenison Residential Aged Care Swansea facility, south of Newcastle.

It is run by Southern Cross Care NSW and ACT.

His son Steve Osgood said his father was in a lopsided chair and his feet were left to drag on the ground.

Close up of an old man smiling.

George Osgood died from sepsis from a staph infection in November 2019.(Supplied: Steve Osgood)

“This wheelchair was a relic that existed in the Tenison residence, the chair would be cantered over to one side,” he said.

George Osgood died on November 2 last year, two days shy of his 89th birthday and after just 51 days in care.

The ABC obtained a copy of his death certificate that states he died from staphylococcus.

Audit showed wheelchairs unsafe

About seven weeks after George Osgood died, the aged care facility failed every industry standard when it underwent a routine audit by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC).

The nursing home met just six of 42 requirements, and because it had failings in every standard it was deemed non-compliant.

The home was one of less than a dozen in Australia to have failed all industry standards at the time it was audited in 2019.

Non-complying equipment included wheelchairs.

Exterior signage at Tenison Swansea Residential Aged Care.

Tenison Swansea Residential Aged Care failed every industry standard when it underwent a routine audit by ACQSC seven weeks after Mr Osgood’s death.(ABC News)

“Equipment at the service is not safe, suitable, clean or well maintained,” the audit found.

“Several wheelchairs do not have footplates and some wheelchairs do not fit the consumer comfortably.

“It was unclear whether broken equipment … may have contributed to injuries to consumers.”

The ABC has obtained diary entries included in the Osgood family submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, highlighting a series of concerns about the chair.

Southern Cross Care NSW and ACT said no complaints were ever made about Mr Osgood’s chair.

But the operator did acknowledge some chairs were unsafe.

“This matter was addressed with the purchase of new equipment, and improved maintenance and cleaning processes were put in place,” the statement said.

Lawyer alleges lax staff training to blame

The Osgood family is being represented in a civil claim suit by Newcastle aged care lawyer Catherine Henry.

She said she was worried Mr Osgood’s wounds were not given proper treatment.

Southern Cross Care NSW and ACT said it was not aware about specific issues relating to Mr Osgood’s wound care.

But it noted it had increased training for staff and purchased additional equipment which has resulted in improved wound healing rates at Tenison Swansea.

“SCC has addressed all issues identified by the Commission relating to wound care … this includes improvements in wound consultancy, increased training for staff,” the home said.

Whistleblower speaks, workers stood down

A former staffer at the home turned-whistleblower also spoke to the ABC on the condition of anonymity.

She worked there for several years prior to George’s death and described a challenging workplace.

“They only had one cleaner, one cleaner to a 32-bed facility, and that cleaner had to do rooms and all the general areas,” she said.

She also said incontinence pads were often not disposed of properly.

View of a pathway through the centre of apartment housing.

Southern Cross Care NSW and ACT said over the past nine months it has implemented long-term improvements.(Supplied: Southern Cross Care NSW and ACT)

The home said it recognised there were previous issues with cleanliness at Tenison Swansea which it said had been addressed.

The ABC has confirmed there were two reports to Belmont police station about Mr Osgood’s care on September 13 and October 25 last year.

The complaints related to alleged elder abuse, the first made about a staffer by the nursing home’s manager.

The second was made by a social worker, and Mr Osgood’s wife, while Mr Osgood was in hospital getting treatment for his foot wounds — a week before he died.

Southern Cross Care NSW and ACT said NSW Police did not consider that any further investigation was needed, but the home took its own action.

“The facility manager who was at the facility at the time of Mr Osgood’s stay is no longer with SCC.”

The home said over the past nine months it had implemented long-term improvements and would welcome a meeting with the family.

“SCC welcomes the chance to meet with Mr Osgood’s wider family in person to offer our apologies for the distress we now know they have experienced, and to discuss Mr Osgood’s care at SCC Tenison Swansea in more detail,” the home said.

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