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Undignified Care - actions speak louder than words

(as a relative),


This story has had a response

About: St John of God Geelong Hospital

My father has recently been an inpatient at St John of God Hospital in Geelong. It has been an emotional roller-coaster time for my whole family with my father being admitted following a fall and then being deemed to require residential care - all within one week.

My main concern is about his loss of dignity over seven days. The St John of God Vision talks about fullness and richness of life and, "... give them a reason to hope and a greater sense of their own dignity." Sadly. this was not my father's (nor my own) experience. My father was living at home and fully continent prior to his fall. However, the nursing staff insisted that my father wore 'pull-up' continence aids during his time in the hospital. Further, having advised staff myself that these were not required and possibly the cause of exacerbated skin excoriation, he was made to continue to wear them and much to my dismay was wearing them again on the day of transfer to his new home in residential care. It was most undignified - from living at home to continence aids and then to residential care.

In addition to this, my father has Parkinsons Disease (PD). Staff did not appear to understand the importance of him receiving his medication on time. On the day of his transfer to his new home (when it was so much more important to get this right for him to be mobile), his 10 am medication for PD was brought at 11 am.  I asked the nurse why this was so and they responded with, "no, that's okay, we have one hour leeway, it shouldn't make a difference". I advised the nurse that it did matter and was concerned that this was the nurse's response as it appeared to dismiss the experience of someone who had been taking this medication (with a three hourly alarm set through the day) for many years. It also dismissed the research which supports the need for on-time medications to maximise function. I raised this with the manager later by phone and whilst seeking to share my concern with them, they told me that the nurse must have been busy. I believe that it was such an insensitive and non-patient-centred response. In my opinion, their knowledge and practice were more significant than my experience. It was very disappointing.

I understand that mistakes can happen and that there can be a breakdown in communication. However, in order to improve, one has to also be receptive to feedback.  I gave feedback directly to staff and to the manager but nothing changed and it is this which has brought me to share my story. I want to feel heard and I hope this channel will enable me to achieve that. After all, actions speak louder than words. Thank you.

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Responses to this story

Response from Patient Opinion

This response is posted behalf of St John of God Geelong Hospital.

Dear Disempowered,

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback regarding the care of your father, following what must have been a difficult time for you and your family.

We are sorry to hear that care we provided to your father did not show appropriate consideration for his dignity and fell short of the standards that you have every right to expect and that we aspire to.

It’s also disappointing to hear that you didn’t feel your feedback as a close family member was listened and responded to, as we do value working closely with patients and their families or carers.

The comments you provided have been shared with caregivers who work in this area and they have been reflecting on the care we provide to patients in these circumstances.

St John of God Geelong Hospital has only recently extended our care to include patients with acute Parkinson’s Disease, since the closure of Geelong Private. We are working to enhance our services in this area and are taking numerous steps to address this, commencing with an external educator, who will be coming to the hospital in the coming weeks.

I note you already tried to address your concerns with some of our staff, however we would welcome the opportunity to discuss your experience more fully and understand some of the issues you experienced. Please don’t hesitate to email us at to arrange an appointment to discuss further.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your feedback and allowing us the opportunity to review the care provided to your father during his stay


Jeffrey Anderson

Director of Nursing

St John of God Geelong Hospital

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful