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Behind Closed Doors

 – One Family’s Journey through the Australian Aged Care System

Bob Wallace had a stellar career, retiring as a Deputy Superintendent in NSW Corrective Services. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. Sarah had the skills to care for her husband, having worked in the UK and Australian health systems but she could not have imagined the nightmare of dealing with the Australian aged care system.

Sarah exposes an abusive and broken system, incapable of responding to Bob, or her needs as his carer. The Wallaces were dishonestly tricked into a residentially-based assessment, where Bob was given a drug that acted like ‘ICE’. Sarah quickly signed him out. For fourteen months, with love and humour, they managed at home until, needing a break, she was persuaded to put Bob into two-week respite. He would never return home.

We follow Sarah and Bob through hospital emergency wards, mental health units and dementia-specific ‘homes’. Dismissive, uncaring ‘professionals’ took control of her husband, restraining him physically and through a cocktail of inappropriate drugs. This left Bob unable to communicate, hastening his death. Sarah’s resolution and courage underpin a chronicle of systemic disaster. As she writes, this should never have happened – to anyone.


Sarah was born in Scotland, near Dumfries. She met Bob in 1963, fell in love, and they married in 1965. They emigrated to Australia in 1970 with their four children, Michael, Susan, John and Lynda. She has been a nurse for over forty years and has worked in nursing homes with aged care residents. 

Sarah and Bob moved to the Southern Highlands, NSW, in 1994.