The family of a woman who died after breaking her hip at a Darwin nursing home say they hope her passing will improve how elderly Territorians are treated in care.Key points:The manager of Pearl nursing home apologised over the death of Barbara FrancisMrs Francis was a fall risk and should have been wearing hip bracesIf she was wearing them when she fell the court heard a fracture may have been avoidedYesterday was the third and final day of an inquest into the circumstances surrounding the death of 78-year-old Barbara Francis, who died in Royal Darwin Hospital on September 18, 2018— two weeks after being injured in a fall.Four of Mrs Francis’s six children have been in court this week, listening to evidence from Pearl aged care home, where their mother lived for about 18 months prior the incident.”Darwin’s not a big place, it was a great place to grow up but there’s only three care homes here,” her son Andrew Francis said. “Territorians are owed, as they get older, to go to a place where they are going to be looked after and cared for; what we want from this process is to know that’s going to happen.”Mr Francis said his mum, who had dementia, may have “forgotten who she was” towards the end of her life — but she still engaged with others in the same way.”She was full of life, very sociable, very loving … she would put herself out for others,” he said. Four of Barbara Francis’s six kids, Melissa, Andrew, Rebecca and Natalie laugh as they remember the happy times with their mum growing up.(ABC News: Owain Stia-James)Mrs Francis broke her hip on September 4, 2018, during a physical incident with another dementia patient, known as Mr A.A registered nurse working on the ward gave evidence in the inquest that she saw Mr A push Mrs Francis three times, leading to her falling and breaking her hip.The court heard on the day of the incident, Mr A had a new support worker who he had not met before and the carer was not made aware that the resident had behavioural issues.The support worker, Paul Neuman, said he saw Mrs Francis fall directly on her hip.The Northern Territory Coroner is examining the death of Barbara Francis.(Supplied)Mrs Francis was a fall risk and should have been wearing hip braces, but the inquest heard on September 4 one pair was soiled and the spare couldn’t be found so she wasn’t wearing them. On Thursday, the inquest was read an email from Dr John Rutherford, who performed Mrs Francis’s autopsy.Dr Rutherford said if the 87-year-old fell onto her right hip, and the break was due to that fall and there was no torsion (meaning the hip didn’t twist) “then a hip brace may have meant she avoided the fracture”. While the break in itself wasn’t fatal, the court heard the injury plus an operation which Mrs Francis had in hospital three days after the injury, sparked a “downward spiral” that ultimately led to her death.’We could have done better’Pearl nursing residential home site manager Janet Malborough cried on the stand as she gave evidence yesterday, telling Mrs Francis’s family she was “personally sorry” for their mother’s death.Mrs Francis lived in the dementia wing of the Pearl aged care home, which at the time housed 14 residents.(ABC News: Dane Hirst)Mrs Malborough acknowledged things could have been managed better the day Mrs Francis was injured and accepted rostering inexperienced and agency staff on that date contributed to the incident, as did “workload issues”.The two personal care assistants working on the dementia ward were working double shifts, and for two hours leading up to the incident they were the only Pearl staff on the ward.Mrs Malbourough said in an “ideal world” a third personal care worker would be rostered on the dementia ward and since the incident the nursing home had made changes, including rostering on an extra lifestyle worker on the dementia ward during busy hours and not allowing agency staff to work there.She also admitted the number of hours worked by registered nurses on the dementia ward were below recommendations in the aged care royal commission, although she said the number of hours worked by care staff met them.St Johns takes the standAt 5.01pm on September 4, a triple-0 call was made by Pearl on behalf of Mrs Francis — but the inquest heard that an ambulance didn’t leave the station to collect her until 6.31pm.Mrs Francis was classified as a code 2 callout, which meant paramedics should have left the station within 15 minutes.St John Ambulance NT operations manager Craig Garraway told the court the service had made changes since Mrs’s Francis injury.(ABC News: Owain Stia-Jame)St John Ambulance NT operations manager Craig Garraway told the court on Thursday that when Mrs Francis was injured it was a day of “very high demand” for the service.Mr Garraway listed where each of the services’ nine units and five emergency crews were during this time and told the court there was no ambulance that could have been sent to the job.However, he said that if the same call was made today, it was “most unlikely” that a code 2 patient would have to wait as long as Mrs Francis had as the service had made significant changes to deal with busy periods.The coroner will now take time to consider evidence, before handing down her findings and recommendations.
The children of a woman who died after breaking her hip at a Darwin nursing home say they hope her death will improve how elderly Territorians are treated in care.