COVID-19: Outbreak in Hamilton dementia care home sees patients left in soiled beds for hours

Major concerns are being raised about a COVID-19 outbreak at a dementia care home in Hamilton. 

At least 19 Rossendale team members have tested positive for the virus while staff say up to 20 residents have, too. 

Workers Newshub spoke to say they're so short-staffed, patients have been left in soiled beds for long periods of time.

"They haven't been changed. If they are in a really bad condition, like if they have faeces or urine saturation, then they get changed after maybe an hour or two of lying there," one staff member told Newshub. 

"I can say all of them, almost forty of them are like that right now."  

They allege one resident was left for as long as five hours. 

"[They were left] as long as five hours, because we've been told to do their medication first, then their meals, and then we can tend to them."

Workers say further COVID-19 testing was supposed to be carried out on Wednesday, but there weren't enough staff members to do it. 

"Some shifts haven't had any registered nurses... there are about three to four staff members in every shift, looking after about 50 people which includes those who are already positive with Omicron," the worker said. 

They say families are not aware of how bad the situation is. 

"The family members just know if a resident is positive... the rest of it is kept in the dark - what the actual situation is with the residents and what condition they are in," another worker said. 

"I am so scared for the residents, that I'm not worried about [losing] my job at the moment. If I get into trouble, I'm not worried about that. I'm just worried about how the residents are."

A Bupa Village and Aged Care Home spokesperson said they take all allegations of poor care extremely seriously.

"The team has been working incredibly hard to protect our residents from the current wave of community transmission, but with omicron being highly transmissible, we do have residents and team members who have tested positive," the spokesperson said. 

"Naturally, with team members now testing positive and isolating at home in line with the Government’s self-isolation requirements, this has put pressure on the care home’s normal rostering levels.

"Bupa's usual practice when facing an unexpected employee absence is to request support from external agencies. However, due to the outbreak situation, this avenue is not available to us. 

"We have been working closely with Public Health and Waikato District Health Board who are providing incredible support, including the DHB sending in their own staff to support our team on the floor," the spokesperson said. 

But workers claim it's made little difference.  

"Staff are not getting any breaks. They are not able to have their meals, dinner, breakfast or lunch breaks. They finish one hour after their shift ends, which is not paid for," one worker told Newshub.

"The staff are tired and everyone is feeling sickly. Even if they are not positive yet, they are already feeling the symptoms, because they've had to work that many hours without breaks and without sitting down."

Another worker agrees. 

"Forcing the staff to go to work while symptomatic is beyond heartless .. we are exhausted and unwell." 

Bupa says they are focusing on providing quality care to their residents. 

"This includes nutrition, hydration, personal hygiene, medications and comfort care. As part of our COVID-19 protocols, our team complete clinical observations of residents to monitor them from symptoms or any other concerns," they said.

"All of our people are paid if they work overtime, and we have reinstated a $2 per hour allowance to all frontline teams at sites, which have either outbreaks or team members in full PPE, recognising the incredible work they are doing in challenging circumstances.  

"At Rossendale, our team are supported to take their breaks and they are provided with snacks, meals and drinks.

"It has been an incredibly challenging week for our people, but we want to emphasise that all of our residents are safe, and we are meeting their basic care requirements."

The workers say they just want the best outcome for their residents. 

"It's very sad, very disappointing, very heartbreaking - because we love our residents," one worker told Newshub. 

"All the staff are feeling awful. We care for them so much. We have grown to love our residents. They are part of our family, we really feel awful for what is happening to them at the moment," another worker said. 

"They are solely dependent on staff... but they are being neglected." 

Watch the full story above.