Real Life

Real life: My poor Nan was bashed to death in her nursing home

All the residents were elderly and frail, I thought my Nanna was safe.

By As told to Take 5

Kym Martin, 45, from Christies Beach, SA, shares his shocking true life story;

Collapsing on the couch, my nanna, Mavis turned on the telly.
"Dracula's on, love," she grinned. "Don't tell your mum I let you watch it."
I was only 10 and my mum, Julie, was raising me alone.
Nanna was lonely, so I spent a lot of time at her place.
She spoilt me rotten and we shared a secret love of horror movies.
She was a sprightly, feisty old girl and I thought the world of her.
Over the years, she started to slow down a bit so I did her grocery shopping for her.
She was 87 when I popped in one day to see what she needed before heading to the supermarket.
As we chatted, she kept muddling her words.
"You okay, Nanna?" I asked.
"I think so," she shrugged.
Must be old age, I thought.
The next day, she seemed even more confused so Mum called an ambulance.
We had such a close bond.
Photos exclusive to Take 5
It turned out she'd suffered a stroke that had paralysed her right arm.
Even worse, doctors said she was in the early stages of dementia.
Sadly, Nanna went to live in an aged care facility and eventually ended up in Adelaide's St Basil's Aegean Village Nursing Home.
I was overwhelmed with despair when Mum passed away after battling a long illness soon after.
Breaking the news to Nanna was tough.
Despite her dementia, she understood and broke down in tears.
But she'd forgotten a week later.
"Where's your mum, love?" she asked.
By the time she reached her 90s, her heart had weakened and the dementia had taken a toll.
She could barely speak, but she never once forgot who I was.
Six weeks after her 93rd birthday, I got a call from St Basil's at 8.30 in the morning.
"It looks like your Nan's had a fall and she's got some bad cuts on her arms," a worker told me.
I rushed to see her at Flinders Medical Centre and got the shock of my life.
My beautiful Nanna.
Photos exclusive to Take 5
With bruises all over her face and an enormous black eye, Nanna looked like she'd stepped in the ring with a boxer.
Both her arms were bandaged and blood stained.
On a table next to her bed, someone had left a stack of photos so I picked them up.
My jaw dropped when I saw they were of Nanna when she was admitted. Her arms were ribboned with cuts and slashes.
I could see bone and tendons.
How can a fall cause these horrific injuries?
I was still reeling when a doctor came in.
She mentioned palliative care, but I was still so disturbed by the photos, I struggled to take it all in.
Then I got a call from a detective.
"I'm investigating the assault on your grandmother," he blurted out.
"Assault!" I choked. "I was told she fell."
The officer said it looked like Nanna had been attacked by another lady at the nursing home.
I found it hard to believe because all the other residents were elderly, frail and weak, like her.
How could one of them inflict such violent injuries?
I was numb with grief when Nanna passed away the next day.
She was a little old lady, weighing just 36kg, but she'd been such a presence in my life.
The way she'd died had traumatised me.
The room where Nan was attacked.
Photos exclusive to Take 5
"Nanna was paying good money to stay at that home," I wept to my friend, Danielle. "She should have been safe."
The police wouldn't tell me anything about her attacker, except that she'd been charged with murder and aggravated assault.
I called constantly for updates and couldn't understand why it was taking so long to go to trial.
Then suddenly, almost three years after Nan's death, a detective told me the charges were being dropped because the attacker suffered from dementia herself.
"There's no realistic prospect of prosecution," he said.
More than a year later, an inquest into Nanna's death revealed her attacker was Rozalia Setalo.
She was 85 when she killed Nanna and had since passed away.
It was around 1.30am when Rozalia tried to attack care worker, Harit Kamal, with her walking frame.
He locked himself in the nurse's station as she battered the glass walls with a plastic covered chain used to screen off rooms.
She wandered off just as Ute Latz, the registered nurse in charge, turned up.
Kamal was explaining what had happened when they heard another resident calling for help.
It was another old lady who said she'd been attacked.
She had a bruise on her leg.
I still can't get over what happened to Nan.
Photos exclusive to Take 5
Latz found Rozalia and tried to calm her down but the crazed old woman punched her and hit her with the walking frame.
Instead of tackling her, Latz locked herself in the nurses' station with Kamal and called the police.
Although Rozalia had been rampaging through the ward with the chain, Latz didn't even think to check on the other residents.
It wasn't until another carer tried to subdue Rozalia on her own, that she came out to help.
At that moment, police arrived.
Then, at 5am, Latz found Nanna in a pool of blood, flesh whipped off her bones and blood splattered on the walls.
Despite everything that had happened with Rozalia that night, she thought Nanna had done this to herself.
She didn't even call back the police.
Most of Nanna's injuries had been on her left arm because she hadn't been able to move her right since the stroke.
It broke my heart thinking of my poor Nanna trying to fend off the blows as she was virtually whipped to death.
Then, to make things worse, she'd been alone, confused, scared and bleeding to death, for hours.
A week after the coronial inquest, I had a stroke myself and another one a few weeks after that.
She was whipped with a chain.
Photos exclusive to Take 5
"It's the stress," I sighed to Danielle.
In May this year the Coroner handed down his findings.
He was scathing, saying there'd been a gross dereliction of duty the night Nanna was attacked.
He said Rozalia should have been isolated immediately and it was unacceptable for young and able-bodied staff to lock themselves away rather than deal with her.
Incredibly, senior management hadn't seen anything wrong with Latz's inaction.
She'd continued working at the home for four years after Nanna died!
I hope it leads to improvements in aged care. Standards should be as good as childcare centres.
After all, the elderly are just as vulnerable as kids.
I miss Nanna so much.
She was a kind and loving woman who'd done so much for me.
I knew she was fading away, but I'd hoped, when the time came, I'd be by her side, holding her hand and telling her how much I loved her.
Instead, the last thing my Nanna saw was a crazed maniac attacking her and no-one coming to help.
If you or someone you know is aware of the mistreatment of the elderly in nursing homes, click here for more information on how to report it in your state.

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