MERCHANT banker Marcus Rose is set for a tilt at the Jewish Care (Melbourne) presidency after articles in The AJN exposing substandard levels of care prompted him to call for a “serious shake up” of the aged-care provider.
The news comes in the wake of a fresh wave of claims levelled at the organisation by residents, their families and staff, with further reports of hunger strikes, incorrect provision of medication, substandard food and hygiene practices, and chronic staff shortages.
Rose will be in the mix to take over from incumbent Bruce Rosengarten, who advised the board in June he would step down after three years in the job.
Rose says he was looking for a home for his parents and was disturbed by what he saw at Jewish Care (Melbourne).
“We did the sojourn of all of the various residences, and to be honest with you the most disappointing were the [Jewish Care] residences,” said Rose, a former financial director at the Carlton Football Club.
“On closer inquiry and discussion, I had some real concerns and doubts about the quality of the care and the quality of the service, and that was born out when I started reading a couple of the articles [in The AJN].”
Since featuring an article exposing alleged shoddy practices at Jewish Care two weeks ago, The AJN has been inundated with phone calls and letters from people, livid with the treatment of their loved ones.
The AJN put the new grievances to Jewish Care (Melbourne) CEO Bill Appleby, who said he was aware of one of the complaints regarding food, but said no other concerns had been raised at recent progress meetings or reviews, which are held bi-monthly.
But Simon Sztajer, whose 93-year-old father is a resident at Montefiore and a Holocaust survivor, claims he has lodged numerous complaints through the proper channels, only to be ignored.Sztajer says his father refuses to eat the meals provided at Montefiore and subsists on food brought in from outside the facility.
“He doesn’t believe the food quality is very good, he doesn’t believe it’s a heimish-style food. As he said: ‘It’s not for Jews,’” Sztajer told The AJN.
“He won’t move out because he believes Monty is his … He won’t go anywhere else. There’s no heimish home there anymore, there’s no understanding [from] people internally of where [Holocaust survivors] have come from.”
Appleby denied the allegations of cultural insensitivity, saying staff undergo an “ethos training day where a child Holocaust survivor presents his story ”, as well as education sessions.
According to Sztajer, his father was seeing a counsellor appointed by Jewish Care (Melbourne) to help him deal with residual trauma from his experiences during the Holocaust, but he says the counsellor was recently sacked. “He was very happy seeing her … Hopefully that was going to make him a little bit more comfortable in his life, but they sacked her a few weeks ago.”
Sztajer said his father is often left to fend for himself. “He’s a 93-year-old blind person [and] he went to his personal doctor a couple of weeks ago, because no one would take him to the doctor internally. He went out on the tram himself and went to the doctor. He doesn’t believe he’s getting the level of care internally.”
Henry Burstyner says his mother was given an incorrect dose of medication while in care at Gary Smorgon House. “On a couple of occasions: a) they didn’t deliver it to her at the time that they should have, and b) they gave her the wrong dosage.”
He says his mother identified that the dosage was incorrect and took her normal dose.
Burstyner added that “chronic staff shortages” and cutbacks to services such as physiotherapy had impacted on his mother’s quality of life as well. “You’re sloughed off, you’re sloughed off, you’re sloughed off,” Burstyner said of complaints made to management.
The AJN has also received a number of letters of support from volunteers and relatives of residents.
Ida Lom said of her mother’s carers: “She was treated with warmth and kindness, probably because she was so appreciative and grateful towards the people looking after her.”
Jewish Care volunteer David Segal added: “To claim that ‘registered nurses have either been sacked or had their hours greatly reduced in favour of less qualified personal care assistants (PCAs), resulting in substandard care’ is ridiculous at the best. The industry is regulated, and if under the regulation a PCA may perform that duty, why should [Jewish Care] employ a [registered nurse] and pay her much higher wages?”
Jewish Care CEO Bill Appleby.