“I am nowhere near healing,” Klery Loutas told Neos Kosmos following the release of the Independent Review on the COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities on Melbourne Cup Day. The report comes ahead of the coronial inquest set to take place on 15 November.

Ms Loutas lost her 77-year-old mother Filia Xynidakis during the COVID-19 outbreak at St Basil’s Aged Care facility in Fawkner. Though her mother was not COVID-19 positive, she was left dehydrated and malnourished after the government’s inexperienced replacement staff were brought in on 22 July, 2020.

Ms Loutas said what followed was “trauma that still haunts” her.

It was a harrowing time for the Greek community of Victoria as COVID-19 swept through aged care homes during the second wave of COVID-19.

Among the worst-hit facilities was St Basil’s at Fawkner where an outbreak claimed 50 lives from the 150 Greek Melburnian deaths to COVID-19 recorded at the time.

The report states that the replacement of staff left residents disorientated, and acknowledged language barriers and neglect, while the elderly were left distressed as medical records went “missing, (were) inaccessible or out of date”.

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The review, conducted by Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly, was handed to the federal government on 30 April but has just now been released.

“Many became dangerously deconditioned, malnourished or dehydrated because of isolation, loneliness and neglect,” the report said.

Relatives, however, did not need a report.

“We are governed by bureaucracy,” Ms Loutas said.

“We don’t need another report but to roll up our sleeves and ‘do’.

“What we need is filotimo, symbonia (compassion).”

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Ms Loutas said that she is still mourning, and it “breaks my heart” thinking that “elders who contributed so much to the fabric of Australia were treated so cruelly”.

Christine Golding’s mother Efraxia died at St Basil’s during the outbreak at the age of 84. She told the Sydney Morning Herald that she rejects the report’s characterisation that COVID-19 entered the facility due to “bad luck”. She said operators were “not prepared” and was critical of the “readily deployable surge workforce” to fill regular staff.

“At St Basil’s, some of them didn’t speak English or had never worked in aged care before,” Ms Golding said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said that the government will adopt the recommendations and adapt the way it prepares for an outbreak.

“This will be done in collaboration with the aged care sector, state and territory governments and health authorities,” Minister Hunt said.

“It will also be important that, as the community transitions to living with COVID, we continue with critical strategies such as vaccinations and testing, so that aged care residents and staff are protected.”

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Relatives are still not satisfied and hope to finally have answers when the coronial inquest into the outbreak at St Basil’s Aged Care facility in Fawkner takes place on 15 November.