"WHAT is your problem, nothing went wrong and your mother wasn't hurt."
These are the words that Dubbo registered nurse Ruth Hamilton said she was told when she took to the stand as the first witness at the aged care commission hearing in Mudgee on Monday.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is in Mudgee for three days in what will be the only hearing in regional NSW.
READ MORE: The full royal commission witness list
Ms Hamilton's mother has been in aged care since 2012, but on the stand declined to tell commissioners Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs the name of the facility where her mother lives other than to state it was in the Central West.
"I feel nervous as it is a small town that I live in and I'm worried about repercussions to my mother and staff," she said.
Ms Hamilton was called as a witness by the commission to provide evidence about the quality and safety of aged care from a family member's perspective.
I feel nervous as it is a small town that I live in and I'm worried about repercussions to my mother and staff.Ruth Hamilton
When her mother first entered care she was "quite happy with it" and "staff did the best they could".
Ms Hamilton visits her mother four days every week, and said she witnessed on many occasion that staff had difficulties with her mother's gastrostomy tube.
When her mother was provided a new tube, as a registered nurse Ms Hamilton offered to provide training for staff to ensure she "knew they were competent".
However, Ms Hamilton told the commissioners the tube was changed by staff before she had been given the chance to train them and she subsequently complained to the facility's chief executive officer.
"She said to me 'what is your problem, nothing went wrong and your mother wasn't hurt'," she said of the conversation with the CEO.
"She said 'You're nothing but a bully and nobody wants to look after your mother because of you'.
"It made me feel insignificant .... my concerns weren't listened to and they didn't mean anything."
Ms Hamilton also told the commission that the facility had been subject to two audits this year - one in April that it failed, and another in August which it passed.
She said the auditor's questions of her mother were too "fluffy" and did not ask the hard questions.
"Mum would just say 'yes, yes, yes' [to the auditor]. I think with her generation they don't like to make waves and they just like to keep people happy," she said.
Mum would just say 'yes, yes, yes' [to the auditor]. I think with her generation they don't like to make waves and they just like to keep people happyRuth Hamilton
"A lot of the residents won't say anything because they're frightened of the repercussions and that things won't change anyway."
Ms Hamilton said she felt unable to go to the facility's management about her concerns for her mother.
"I do talk to the staff about some of the issues and they do try and fix them but they've had repercussions because of this," she said.
Ms Hamilton said she wanted to be among the voices speaking up to the commission and that the aged care sector in turn needed to be more open, supportive and willing to make changes.
The Mudgee hearing continues until Wednesday with the public able to attend or watch the live stream.
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