Doctor Andrew Lill’s warnings about the sector also highlight a disturbing trend towards housing elderly residents in regional hospitals, where medical rules rather than an aged-care setting make use of security guards, restraints and sedation more commonplace. The Times previously reported elderly residents unable to claim places in aged care were already housed at the Margaret River Hospital, but Dr Lill said a trend was now in place across the greater South West using hospital wards as long-term care centres. The WA Country Health Service was in a difficult position because it housed those elderly people as a stop-gap measure due to the unavailability of conventional places in the aged-care system, which was running short of capacity due to worker shortages. A WACHS spokesperson cautioned the Times on reporting the plight of these elderly residents because “when discussing elderly people who are admitted to hospital in the absence of more appropriate options, you are talking about a person — someone’s friend, someone’s loved one, someone’s family”. But Dr Lill said concern for those unplaced seniors was exactly his motivation for speaking out. “It’s set up to deal with short-term medical problems and surgeries,” he told the Times. “(Now) it’s just clogged with aged care. “They have shipped them out to peripheral hospitals.” WACHS said 19 seniors were living in wards in Margaret River and Busselton. However, it did not respond to questions sparked by Dr Lill’s testimony that hospitals as far as Donnybrook and Augusta were receiving seniors unable to find aged-care places closer to home. “My information is that there is at least that number at Busselton Health Campus,” Dr Lill said. “Elective (surgery) cases (are) cancelled regularly due to lack of beds. There are residents in hospital who have been there for over 130 days waiting for placement.” WACHS also did not respond to Dr Lill’s observations about private security used in Busselton Health Campus’ Ward 2. “Our staff work hard behind the scenes to optimise bed flow and provide the appropriate level of care in an environment that is as comfortable as possible,” a WACHS spokesperson said. “It isn’t uncommon for health service providers to organise 1:1 care for any patient with impaired cognitive function — not just the elderly. “We do this for their safety and that of our staff. “WA Country Health has a strong commitment to minimising the use of restrictive practices, including the use of sedation,” the spokesperson said. “Any form of restrictive practice would only be considered based on strong medical reasoning and within the applicable standards and guidelines.” Health Minister Roger Cook’s office did not respond to inquiries.