An 85-year-old aged care resident in locked-down Melbourne says she’d rather be dead.
Merle Mitchell, who has been in residential aged care since 2016, is only allowed to leave her room four times a week in one-hour stints for physiotherapy.
Her only glimpse of the outside world is through a single window, she told the royal commission into aged care on Monday.
“I can look at a brick wall but that’s all. There’s nothing else to look at,” she said.
The commission is examining the aged care sector’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, focusing mainly on two deadly outbreaks at separate Sydney homes.
It is not looking at Victoria’s crisis out of sensitivity to those involved and its evolving nature.
There have been no virus cases at Ms Mitchell’s aged home in Glen Waverley but she said restrictions have impacted care and made life very difficult for residents.
She has decided to miss external medical appointments to avoid going into stricter two-week isolation upon her return.
“I’ve got to the stage of being accepting. I’m here until I die,” she said.
“Every morning when I wake up I think ‘damn I’ve woken up’. If you asked most people here they would all say they would rather be dead rather than living here, if they’re honest.”
Ms Mitchell said she had been told off by staff for speaking her mind.
“But they’re my thoughts and I own my thoughts,” she added.
Friends and family of residents at the facility, which is home to about 130 people, have had visitation reduced.
“For those with dementia it has been very difficult,” Ms Mitchell said.
“I don’t think they understand the lockdown, why family are not coming to see them. Many people here had family who came in every day, at least once a day.
“They helped with all sorts of little things, just companionship really. That has all gone.”
Fourteen of Victoria’s 19 virus deaths recorded on Monday were linked to aged care.