CRY FOR HELP
PARALYSED by a stroke and bedridden, 81-year-old Currumbin Waters pensioner Colin Overell only has his devoted wife Joy to look after him at home.
With the recent departure from a nearby clinic of his regular doctor who used to make occasional home visits to give him injections, Mr Overell now has to get an ambulance to take him to hospital when the need arises.
He still gets the regular visits from a nurse and a physiotherapist to try to help him walk again but requests for a local doctor to visit have been knocked back as many GPs, according to the Overells, do not find it financially viable to conduct such visits.
Mrs Overell, 79, is frail and smaller than her husband but somehow manages to cope with the difficult task of lifting him with a hoist into a wheelchair whenever they have to leave their home.
"Our youngest daughter Debbie, who lives in Coomera, will help us out if a problem arises but it means she misses work in order to come here," she said.
"We did have a doctor from The Pines who used to do home calls for us but since he left, no-one else would come.
"This problem (lack of GP home visits) does not just affect invalids but many elderly people living on their own ? it's come to the stage where they just have to live at home and either die or suffer.
"Medcall is an absolutely marvellous organisation but only makes after-hours home calls, between 6pm and 8pm and on weekends, and does not keep medical records which can be a bit of a problem with medication ? it would be good if something like that operated during the day."
They have ruled out the only alternative many people face in this situation ? admission to a nursing home.
"That's just not an option. He's been in one for two weeks ? that was enough," Mrs Overell said.
Nursing homes, they say, are understaffed.
In the short time Mr Overell was in the nursing home, he found some staff did not treat him with due care or respect.
"I did my lolly ? four staff were singing up and down the corridor at two o'clock in the morning and the woman in the room next to me would wake at six and started to sing hymns," Mr Overell said.
After suffering his second stroke last month, Mr Overell was hospitalised but his wife admitted that he didn't "do well".
"He was in there three days and came out worse than when he went in," she said.
Mr Overell said problems caused by the lack of home visits by doctors was "happening all over the place".
"Like myself, nobody can get a doctor during the day or night ? they just won't come...I have a battery-powered scooter which I did use to get down to the clinic down the road but I can't get out now."
The couple, who have been married for 50 years, said they were mostly concerned for other elderly invalids who found themselves in the same plight but had no partners or family.
The Gold Coast Division of General Practice said the situation was common on the Gold Coast and was mostly due to an undersupply of GPs.
Home and nursinghome visits, according to a spokesman, were time consuming and most surgeries or clinics found them not very rewarding from a time and economic point of view.
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