Jakov Pucar was like a “breathing skeleton” when he was admitted to hospital after he wasn’t fed properly and contracted COVID-19 at his Melbourne aged care home, an inquest has been told.
Pucar’s daughter, Branka Lyons, broke down in tears on Wednesday as she recounted the days leading up to the deaths of her parents – both residents at St Basil’s Home for the Aged.
Lyons said her 90-year-old father could only eat pureed food, but wasn’t being fed properly when a COVID-19 outbreak swept through the Fawkner facility in July 2020.
She said staff at Northern Hospital rang her on July 27 – the day after Pucar was admitted – and said he had presented “like a breathing skeleton”.
He died on August 11.
Her mother, 82-year-old Slavka Pucar, also died after contracting COVID-19 while living at St Basil’s.
“None of this would have occurred if St Basil’s was more competent in its COVID preparations,” Lyons told the Victorian Coroners Court.
“This should never happen again. Our elderly deserve better.”
Jakov and Slavka Pucar were two of 45 residents at the home who died from the virus after regular workers were declared close contacts and replaced by inexperienced agency staff.
Lyons added that her father was given morphine before being transferred to hospital – specifically against her wishes.
A landline phone connection to her parents’ room was also cut during outbreak.
“I’ve got my mum and dad beside me – I’m doing this for them,” Lyons said after breaking down in tears.
“They’ll get me through it.”
The inquest also heard a recorded phone conversation Lyons had with one of the replacement workers, Robert McDougall, on July 26.
“It’s a place of neglect,” McDougall, who gave permission for the call to be played, told Lyons.
“I’ve asked them to shut this place down.”
The replacement worker also said residents at St Basil’s were lying in soiled bedding and had untouched trays of food piled up in their rooms.
The hearing continues before Victorian State Coroner John Cain.