A woman who was forced to engage a solicitor to have her concerns about her mother's treatment at Bupa's South Hobart aged care facility heard said she has been amazed by the lack of compassion shown by the facility's management.
Merridy Eastman told a hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in Hobart on Thursday her mother Berenice, 92, was put under pressure to vacate a two-person room she had shared with her husband Walter, 89, since 2015 only three weeks after Walter's death in 2018.
Ms Eastman said emails she received from the then-general manager David Neal, after she requested extra time to help her mother cope with the move to a one-person room, never referred to her mother and the situation.
"They referred to 119 beds, revenue, income loss," she said.
"We found his emails very callous and business-like and our situation couldn't have been more personal and distressing."
Ms Eastman said her mother was allowed to stay an extra month in the room because that was how long it took to stop arguing with solicitors and others whom her family had appealed to for help.
"We were very disappointed that we had to resort to our mum's solicitor to appeal on compassionate grounds. It isn't her room - it's her home," she said.
"We've already given them hundreds of thousands of dollars and we're paying $3000 a month in fees - we deserve some compassion and duty of care."
A summons requesting Mr Neal appear before the commission on Thursday was unable to be delivered.
'Misguided' cost cutting strategies
Bupa South Hobart was sanctioned from October 2018 until July 2019 after an audit revealed the facility failed to meet 32 of 44 expected quality outcomes.
Earlier in the hearing, the commission heard evidence between 2016 and 2018 Bupa was implementing four strategies to cut costs by reducing staff hours.
Bupa regional manager Elizabeth Wesols and former Bupa regional director Stephanie Hechenberger told the commission on Thursday they agreed strategies geared at reducing staff hours were "misguided" given a number of care concerns had been highlighted by internal mock audits.
Ms Wesols said Bupa's South Hobart home had always been challenging.
"It's compliant and then reverting back due to the changes in key personnel, leadership and clinical managers," Ms Wesols said.
"With the churn and constant movement [of staff] that leaves quite a gap."
Ms Hechenberger said the high turnover of staff meant personalised care was not delivered to residents.
Prior to Walter's death, Ms Eastman said understaffing at Bupa resulted in her 90-year-old mother looking after both her husband and another resident who was often left waiting for care.
"My 90-year-old mother was taking a 90-year-old blind woman to the toilet," Ms Eastman said.
"She was caring for her husband and the blind resident which was ridiculous. The carers were everywhere doing as much as they could but mum was left in this situation on a daily or weekly basis."
Ms Eastman said the level of care had improved in some respects since the facility was sanctioned, however said there would be ongoing problems until major changes were made.
"I am hoping the royal commission makes us all think about how we treat our elderly people. I am hoping that it shines a light on problems that are even bigger than Bupa South Hobart," Ms Eastman said.
"[Mum] is now totally dependent on staff who have training and know how to deal with people with dementia."
Ms Eastman said during a visit last month she found out staff had spoken about her mother as a "naughty girl".
"We've got to stop infantalising our elderly and we've got to stop punishing them for their behaviour if they are suffering from dementia," she said.
The hearing continues.