A secret recording has shed light on the appalling conditions inside Melbourne’s St Basil’s aged care home during last year’s fatal COVID-19 outbreak.

Key points:

  • A coronial inquest into the deadly outbreak at the aged care facility is in its second week
  • Both of Branka Lyons’ elderly parents died in hospital weeks after contacting COVID-19 at St Basil’s
  • During a taped phone call, a carer told her of neglectful conditions as the outbreak unfolded

The recording, played to a coronial inquest on Wednesday, was made by Branka Lyons, the daughter of two residents who both died at St Basil’s in the outbreak.

On July 26 last year, with her father’s health rapidly deteriorating, Ms Lyons was on the phone to St Basil’s personal care worker Robert McDougall.

Mr McDougall had only been at the facility for three days.

After hearing about the dire situation at St Basil’s — where dozens of residents and staff had been infected — Mr McDougall jumped in his car and drove from Gippsland to Melbourne to volunteer his services.

Care worker describes home as ‘worst I have ever seen’

During the conversation taped by Ms Lyons, Mr McDougall said her father was dehydrated and needed to be admitted to hospital.

He then painted a horrifying picture of conditions inside the home.

“They’re missing medications … people are going mad. They won’t give anyone a drink,” Mr McDougall told her.

“I lost a man in one wing yesterday and it was completely avoidable.”

Mr McDougall told Ms Lyons he had called a government department to tell them about the conditions inside the Fawkner home.

“I’ve asked them … please shut this place down,” he said in the recording.

“It’s a place of neglect.

Mr McDougall told Ms Lyons he had seen rooms where bedsheets hadn’t been changed.

“Soiled bedding … not just soiled, but really bad,” he said.

The recording was played to the inquest during Ms Lyons’ evidence after Mr McDougall gave his consent.

He is due to give evidence next week.

Ms Lyon’s parents, Jakov and Slavka Pucar, died in hospital within weeks of contracting COVID-19 at St Basil’s.

They were among 50 St Basil’s residents who ultimately died during the outbreak.

Ms Lyons praised Mr McDougall’s actions but was highly critical of the care her parents had received at St Basil’s during the crisis.

She told the inquest her father was left without food and was given morphine against the family’s wishes.

Ms Lyons said a landline telephone her parents paid for was disconnected during the outbreak, leaving her mother isolated and confused.

“None of this would have happened if St Basil’s management had been more competent,” Ms Lyons said.

“Our elderly deserve better than this.”

The inquest continues.

Posted , updated 

Recording paints St Basil’s aged care home as ‘place of neglect’ during deadly COVID-19 outbreak
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