Confronting video has emerged of an elderly woman falling on a shopping centre travelator, despite being with a care worker.

Key points:

  • Sally Curtis, 90, died in February 2019, shortly after an accident during a supervised trip to her local shopping centre
  • Her care plan by service provider Oxley Home Care stated she needed to be monitored closely and was at medium risk for falls
  • Two years on, Sally’s family say they’re still waiting for a proper investigation into what went wrong

The care worker doesn’t appear to be physically supporting 90-year-old Sally Curtis, even though she is using a wheelie walker and had been assessed as a medium fall risk by service provider Oxley Home Care. 

As seen in the video above, the vision shows Sally losing her balance and falling backwards, hitting her left side hard before her walker hits her.

The carer then quickly pulls her up from the travelator by both arms.

Sally Curtis was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital and died about 24 hours later.

Sally’s daughter Jeanie Sinclair was so concerned about what happened to her mother, she contacted the safety regulator – the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission – the day after Sally’s death and lodged a complaint.

Elderly woman laying in a hospital bed.

Jeanie says her mum Sally weighed only 37 kilograms and had horrific injuries. (

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The regulator told her it would allow Oxley Home Care to conduct an investigation and would then provide her with information and discuss the outcomes.

But the family were shocked when the regulator wrote back one month later to say it was closing the case without taking any enforcement action, after receiving information from the service provider about its training, requirements for third-party labour hire workers and details about its care plans.

“I understand that you are satisfied with the assistance and information provided by us and no longer require our involvement,” the letter said.

The letter did not provide any information about an investigation by Oxley Home Care.

Speaking exclusively to ABC’s 7.30 program, Jeanie Sinclair says she couldn’t believe it when she read the letter’s assertion that she was satisfied.

“Just closing the file saying, ‘We understand you’re satisfied’ – no, I’m not satisfied, I’ll never be satisfied,” she told 7.30.

“Frustrated would be a nice word. It makes me angry.

Sally’s death ‘didn’t need to happen’

Jeanie Sinclair says she was horrified when she saw the footage of the incident.

“It’s horrific. There’s a lift right there and [the carer] took her on the travelator and Mum just fell backwards and [with] such a thud,” she said. 

“The carer wasn’t even holding her or anything.”

She is now calling for the New South Wales coroner to hold an inquest into her mother’s death.

Joseph Ibrahim is a specialist in geriatric medicine from Monash University and has researched the prevention of injury-related deaths in aged care and has assisted coronial investigations. 

Joseph Ibrahim

Joseph Ibrahim believes a detailed investigation into the accident would be in the public interest. 

He believes there are complex issues involved in the accident, and a broader inquiry is in the public interest.

“What I’m interested in is finding an explanation for the family, and part of that explanation requires some undertaking that action will be taken so no one else would need to go through this set of circumstances again,” he said.

“Our goal always is to make the community safer and to respect people’s choice [to remain independent] and I think that a detailed investigation, with that as the primary focus, would be beneficial to the country, not just the family.”

Sally enjoyed her independence

In 2019, Sally Curtis was still living independently in a unit at a retirement village on Sydney’s north shore.

Woman wearing a green top and animal print scarf, smiling.

Sally Curtis was living alone in a unit at a retirement village. (

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She needed help to keep that independence after a fall from her bed resulted in a fractured right leg, with a titanium rod being surgically inserted.

That help came in the form of a high-needs home care package, delivered by service provider Oxley Home Care.

Care workers helped Sally with everything from showering to cleaning and supporting her on trips to the shops.

According to her care plan, Sally was rated as having a ‘medium’ fall risk, and she needed to be monitored closely because she had lost some confidence in her mobility after her previous fall.

In February 2019, Sally needed a new phone and arranged for a carer to take her to Chatswood Chase shopping centre.

Oxley outsourced her care that day using labour-hire company McArthur to supply the care worker.

Danielle Robertson has more than three decades experience in home care and now provides expert opinion in court cases.

After reviewing footage of the incident for 7.30, she believes multiple mistakes were made.

“I think the fall could have easily been prevented … by taking Mrs Curtis to the lift,” she said.

“The fact that she is a 90-year-old lady on a wheelie walker who had obvious physical restrictions and mobility restrictions, going up a travelator with the carer behind her – not holding her hand or supporting her getting onto the travelator – it was quite shocking actually, to see the actual fall.

“And not only that, the reaction of the carer to just lift her up … after anyone has a fall or has an accident, the first reaction should be to try and stop the travelator.

“Hold her head, and just see if there was any damage to her neck, spine, shoulders.

Questions remain unanswered

Jeanie Sinclair claims her family has never been told what Oxley Home Care discovered when it conducted an investigation, despite her trying to find out.

According to Danielle Robertson, families should be informed about the findings of investigations into serious incidents, “whether it’s through the quality agency or the home care provider”.

“Obviously, given Mrs Curtis has passed away, I think there should be a number of inquiries and investigations into it,” she said.

Oxley Home Care is now owned by a parent company called the My Home Care Group.

CEO Stuart Miller declined to be interviewed and the parent company did not answer detailed questions from 7.30.

In a statement, My Home Care said it had:

“…conducted a comprehensive internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mrs Curtis’s death and provided these details to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

“Oxley Home Care’s highest priority is the safety and wellbeing of people in our care.

“We would cooperate with any independent inquiry into Mrs Curtis’s death.”

Questions remain about the circumstances leading up to the fall.

7.30 asked McArthur, the company that employed the care worker, whether it was the carer’s first time seeing Sally Curtis.

A copy of a care plan.

Sally’s care plan outlined she was at a medium risk of falls and needed to be monitored closely.(

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In a statement, chief executive of McArthur Matthew McArthur said: “Oxley Home Care provided the McArthur employee with detailed information regarding the client and their care requirements, including the relevant care plan.”

Oxley Home Care said it did provide the latest care plan to McArthur prior to the trip to the shopping centre.

“Mrs Curtis’s carer had access to the updated care plan. The carer spent 90 minutes with Mrs Curtis before the visit to the shopping centre, enabling the carer to fully assess Mrs Curtis’s condition and capabilities on the day,” My Home Care said in a statement.

‘The system is broken’

More than two years after her mother’s death, Jeanie Sinclair is still waiting for a thorough investigation to reveal what went wrong.

Ms Sinclair believes her poor experience with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is reflected in the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, which slammed the regulator’s poor track record on enforcement and singled out oversight of home care.

Mother sitting between her two daughters on a couch, looking at a photo album.

Jeanie Sinclair is still waiting for a thorough investigation two years after her mother’s death.(

ABC News: Jerry Rickard

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7.30 requested an interview with Janet Anderson from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission but she was unavailable.

The regulator did not answer written questions about what it had done in response to the complaint, including whether it had reviewed footage of the incident or the last care plan for Sally Curtis.

In a statement, the regulator said: “The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is not able to comment on the specifics of individual complaints as these are covered by privacy legislation and the protected information provisions of the Aged Care Act.”

More generally, it maintains it takes a “proportionate, risk-based approach in determining any regulatory action”.

The Morrison government has boosted funding to the regulator by more than $260 million to increase the number of complaints it can handle and allow it to undertake more site audits and quality reviews.

The government will also establish a new authority to replace the current regulator after a capability review is done in 2023.

However, it’s little comfort for Jeanie, who says the system is “broken”.

“The system is broken because a beautiful woman like my mum did not need to die,” she said.

“There needs to be proper action and accountability for that.”

Watch this story on 7.30 on iview.

Family demanding answers after 90-year-old’s ‘horrific’ fall during outing with carer
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