Dylan Thorne

Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Rest home treatment abhorrent

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Far too often we read of cases involving the neglect or abuse of young children.

Such cases evoke a strong response. Often we feel disgust and anger at those who commit offences against the most vulnerable members of our society.

Yesterday, we reported on a case involving someone at the other end of the age spectrum but equally vulnerable and reliant on others for care.

It involved 88-year-old rest-home patient Elleanor Tipler who has dementia. She was made to wear someone else's dirty false teeth after her own were lost.

Her daughter said the dentures had "horrible black bits" between the teeth and "what looked like chewing gum" to hold them in place.

Mrs Ross was horrified after making the discovery at Tauranga's Melrose Lifestyle Care and Village - and said her mother was shown a lack of respect.

Instead of owning up to Mrs Tipler's dentures being lost, it appears a staff member simply gave her someone else's dentures believing them to be "a good fit".

I find her treatment abhorrent. It strikes at the heart of the care we should expect for the elderly - that they should be treated with respect and decency.

It is clear that the person who chose to put someone else's teeth in Mrs Tipler's mouth wasn't concerned with her dignity. It is extremely doubtful a client with full use of their faculties would be treated in the same manner.

The regional manager of Oceania Group, which manages Melrose, Mark Durling, said he was aware of the complaint but did not know the details of how the teeth were lost or where the other set came from.

The incident should not have happened and if it did he did not know how it had occurred.

Mrs Ross is right to complain and will no doubt be somewhat appeased her complaint is being investigated.

If only out of self-interest, we should demand the elderly be treated with the same care we would like for ourselves in our twilight years.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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