Noleen Hausler was suspicious about the treatment of her father, who suffered dementia, so she put a hidden camera in his room at Mitcham Residential Care Facility.
An Australian woman discovered a heinous case of elder abuse against her father after placing a hidden camera in his room. Noleen Hausler filmed the abuse of her bedridden father, Clarence Hausler, after she became suspicious about his treatment at Mitcham Residential Care Facility in Adelaide and placed a camera in his room. She noticed “unusual bruising” on her father and also realized that his demeanor had changed drastically, so she decided to see what was actually going on. The shocking video shows care worker Corey Lucas force-feeding the 89-year-old, grabbing his arms and holding a napkin over his face while aggressively twisting his nose.
The footage was captured in 2015, and Hausler turned over the evidence to the police. Lucas was soon jailed for aggravated assault. “I honestly didn’t know what to do at first,” Hausler, who is a nurse, said in an interview at the time. “I thought about ringing the facility because I was scared for my father’s safety but I thought that I wouldn’t do that and I knew that this was very serious so I went down to the Sturt police station.” She shared her late father’s story (Clarence Hausler passed away in 2017) earlier this week as part of a case study at the aged care royal commission in Perth. “Being confronted with the visual images, I went into a state of shock and total concern for my father,” she said. “My heart was racing and my hands were shaking.” According to The Daily Mail, Clarence, who suffered from dementia, spent 13 years at the facility, which was operated by Japara Healthcare – one of Australia’s biggest elder care providers. Hausler discovered that her father was physically assaulted several times over the course of 8 days – twice by Lucas and once by an agency employee. “I had no idea that someone could possibly do that,” said Hausler. “I felt for dad in the fact that I didn’t protect him sufficiently.”
According to The Daily Mail, the commission is examining whether Japara prioritized its own corporate interests and reputation over its clients. When Hausler initially complained to the facility about her father being poorly handled by care workers, she was first accused of spying on staff before being taken seriously. She testified to the commission saying that while some of the staff members at the facility were dedicated and compassionate, Japara, on the whole, had a “profit-driven attitude” and that her father suffered the consequences. “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.”
Counsel assisting Peter Rozen also told Japara’s quality manager, Diane Jones, that their treatment of Hausler after her complaints was “spectacularly unhelpful” in Japara’s claim to want to repair the relationship with her. Hausler believes that CCTV cameras are the only way to ensure that people at such facilities are protected adequately. “It’s very much a widespread problem in the sector … it happens all behind closed doors,” she said. While Mitcham Residential Care has its own CCTV in public areas, it forbids any other cameras in the private rooms of its residents. “While we have cameras in common areas in our homes, we don’t have any plans to introduce them into residents’ private bedrooms and bathrooms,” a spokesperson said in a 2016 interview with ABC.
A spokesperson for Mitcham Residential Care said in a statement they were “shocked, concerned and saddened to learn of the incident in September 2015”. They continued, “This was a rogue act by someone who has now been criminally prosecuted. We reiterate our sincere apologies to the resident and his family. As soon as we became aware of the incident, the individual was immediately suspended and we have assisted with the police investigation which has since led to a conviction.” However, Lucas’s employment was not formally terminated by the company – he resigned from his position in 2016 and served a mere three weeks of his 10-month jail sentence.