“Where did the bruises come from?" Barbara Spriggs' emotional testimony at aged care inquiry.

— With AAP.

A family’s heartbreaking story dominated the first day of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety yesterday, as Barbara Spriggs described the horrifying conditions her 66-year-old husband Bob was subject to in aged care.

Barbara and her son Clive, who were the first out of 26 witnesses to give evidence at the aged care royal commission, fought back tears as they shared how Bob was dosed up on 10 times his prescribed amount of medication at Adelaide’s Oakden nursing home.

“I’m not usually the sort of person who complains… but when I knew that things had gone wrong with Bob’s treatment I had to keep pushing,” Barbara told the commission yesterday.

After just weeks at the facility, Barbara’s husband, who had Parkinson’s and dementia, was left severely neglected after suffering appalling treatment.

“He was suffering severe bruising on several parts of his body, was dehydrated and suffering severe pneumonia,” Barbara said.

“It was heartbreaking to leave Bob in such an uninviting, rundown, short of qualified staff facility.”

Barbara described the accomodation at the Oaken facility as “like something from the 19th century”.

Last year, a hidden camera captured an 82-year-old man being beaten by a shoe in an aged care facility.

According to Barbara, Bob slept in a locked room with just a sheet to lie on. There was no seat on the toilet bowl and Bob was left with just paper towels to dry himself.


During his time in the facility, Bob was also rushed to hospital with severe bruising – believed to be related to restraints.

After a rapid decline in his health and being overmedicated, Bob died in the facility.

“To this day I don’t know what happened to Bob at Oaken,” Barbara said.

“We do not know where the bruises he got came from, if there had been CCTV footage installed at Oakden we would have been able to find out,” Barbara’s son Clive added.

Barbara also criticised the lack of accountability in the aged care sector, questioning if her husband’s abusers were still working at other facilities.

She called for an accessible way for people to get information, particularly when they had serious concerns.

“There needs to be a very clear pathway that an everyday person can follow if they or someone they are caring for experiences a problem,” she said.

“There has to be a much easier, uncomplicated road to travel.”

The first stage of the royal commission into aged care will run for eight days.