On Friday May 15 2020, South Australian Police declared that the “disgusting and degrading circumstances” that Kensington Park resident Ann Marie Smith died in were part of a major crime investigation.
Ann Marie was 54 years old, had cerebral palsy and lived alone, with the assistance of a paid support worker. She lived in a nice house, in a nice neighbourhood.
But Detective Superintendent Des Bray shared that Ann Marie had been “living her days and sleeping at night in the same woven cane chair in a lounge room for over a year with extremely poor personal hygiene”.
Watch: Vanessa Cranfield on parenting a child with a disability. Post continues below.
There was no fridge in her home, no nutritional food, and the cane chair had become her toilet.
A now-terminated employee of Integrity Care SA had been Ann Marie’s support worker.
On April 5 2020 the support worker, upon finding Ann Marie semi-conscious, called an ambulance and she was admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Doctors conducted major surgery on her severe pressure sores and infected tissue, but Ann Marie died a day later of profound septic shock, multiple organ failure and malnutrition.
As more news was released across the weekend of her devastating death, my feed became filled with the picture of a younger Ann Marie.
She is seated on a cane chair and the figure of a woman is visible next to her. Perhaps it is her mother. I am struck by how evidently loved she is.
The delicate, gold necklace with a heart-shaped pendant, the pretty clip in her beautifully-curled hair, the relaxed pose of her hands in her lap as she gazes toward someone off-camera.