The Age Discrimination Commissioner said the deployment of police officers to respond to incidents in nursing homes should be reviewed after 95-year-old Claire Nuland was struck.
Noland, who weighs 43kg and suffers from dementia, was tasered by police after she was found armed with a steak knife at her home in a nursing home in Kuma. She is in end-of-life care at Kuma District Hospital after the accident caused her to fall and sustain severe head injuries.
The commissioner, Dr Kay Patterson, said the incident was horrific and there should be a review to see if a mental health team would be more appropriate.
She said that sending in a mental health team has proven to be a better outcome than sending in the police where there have been incidents of domestic violence or if someone with mental illness has “done something wrong”.
“People in hospice care get very aggressive and it’s a mental illness,” she said on Wednesday. “They are sometimes not responsible for their behaviour, and I think we need to reconsider whether it is appropriate for police to respond to these types of incidents.”
Greens NSW Senator David Schoebridge asked Patterson questions in Parliament on Wednesday.
He said police in NSW were responding to calls related to incidents in aged care “dozens of times a week” following the Royal Commission on Aged Care’s mandatory reporting recommendation to notify police when an incident of violence or assault occurred in a nursing home. house.
“When you call the police and the tools they have are a baton, handcuffs, tasers and a shotgun, you are asking for the wrong supplier.” [to] When you have a vulnerable woman with dementia,” he said.
Patterson said this concern was not raised with the committee, but he agreed the recommendation should be revised.
“I think any recommendation is worth reviewing again; it is not written [in] She said “stone or blood”. “As a psychiatrist, I think a different team… could handle it differently or train a police team.”
“Anyone who says ‘That’s not exactly what the Royal Commission said’ — I think what we have to look for is: What’s the best answer?”
Asked about Patterson’s comments regarding police involvement in hospice incidents, the health minister, Mark Butler, said he was “very sad” about what happened to Noland.
“I hope in time we can have a mature and informed conversation about the way people with dementia are responded to – as we have about people with mental illness,” he said.
“We need to ensure that the response is sensitive to the conditions in which many residents of aged care live, which is significant cognitive impairment due to dementia.”
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb has ordered a review of police training, with a particular focus on how to deal with people with dementia.
“It seems that the role of the police officer is getting wider and we are expected to know everything about everything – we are not experts on everything,” she said.
It comes as pressure is mounting on NSW Police to release officer camera footage of the incident, and for the NSW Government to carry out a parliamentary inquiry into police powers and police responses when dealing with vulnerable people.
On Tuesday, Greens MP and justice spokeswoman Sue Higginson filed a notice of motion calling for such action, including an independent investigation into the incident.
Gareth Ward, the NSW MP for Kiama, has also called for a parliamentary inquiry into the incident, which NSW Opposition Leader Mark Speakman said on Tuesday the coalition would support.