A daughter suspicious about her elderly father’s care installed a hidden camera in his bedroom and was shocked to discover he was violently abused by an employee at one of Australia’s biggest aged care providers.
The confronting video showed Corey Lucas force-feeding 89-year-old Clarence Hausler, grabbing his arms and holding a napkin over his face while aggressively twisting his nose.
Noleen Hausler filmed the humiliating abuse of her dementia-affected and bedridden father in September 2015 at Mitcham Residential Care Facility in Adelaide, operated by Japara Healthcare.
She provided the footage to police and Lucas was later jailed over the aggravated assault.
Ms. Hausler, who is a nurse, shared her late father’s story as part of a case study at the aged care royal commission in Perth on Monday.
‘Being confronted with the visual images, I went into a state of shock and total concern for my father,’ she said in her statement.
‘My heart was racing (and) my hands were shaking.’
Mr. Hausler repeatedly cried as she gave evidence at the hearing about her father, who spent about 13 years at the 38-bed facility, which Japara took over in 2014.
Over eight days, he was physically assaulted twice by Lucas and once by an agency employee.
‘I had no idea that someone could possibly do that,’ Ms. Hausler said.
‘I felt for dad in the fact that I didn’t protect him sufficiently.’
Ms. Hausler had complained to the facility about her father being poorly handled by carers days before Lucas committed his crime, but she was accused of illegally spying on staff before finally being taken seriously.
The commission is examining whether Japara prioritized its own corporate interests and reputation over person-centered care.
Ms. Hausler, whose father died on January 2017, said while some staff was dedicated and compassionate, Japara had a ‘profit-driven attitude’.
‘I believe that my father’s quality of life suffered as a direct result of management’s culture,’ she said.
‘If a lesson can be learned, it is that resident-centered care means everyone’s voice must be heard and respected regardless of being verbal, non-verbal, advocated, evidenced or witnessed.
‘I believe extremely vulnerable loved ones in care, who mirror my father’s diminished capacity to speak or defend themselves, deserve additional protection in their private rooms.’
Commissioner Richard Tracey thanked Ms. Hausler for sharing her ‘terrible experiences’ to assist the commission’s understanding of the lack of care that occurs from time to time.
Outside, Ms. Hausler told reporters having CCTV in rooms was a ‘no brainer’ to ensure people were protected and said her father’s case was not an isolated incident.
‘(It’s) very much a widespread problem in the sector … it happens all behind closed doors,’ she said.
‘These are the most vulnerable people … they can’t speak, they can’t raise the alarm.’
A Japara employee said she believed staff should have been told why Lucas had left the facility because some already knew ‘something had happened’ but her superior’s decision stood firm.
In June 2016 Lucas pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault. He resigned and served just three weeks of a ten-month sentence behind bars.
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