Care home cru­elty – I trapped my dad’s abuser

The care home was sup­posed to be a sanc­tu­ary for Noleen’s sweet fa­ther Noleen Hausler, 58, Ade­laide, SA

that's life (Australia) - - Contents - As told to April Glover

My dad Clarry sim­ply loved the coun­try life. A gen­tle gi­ant, he was often found work­ing hard in the or­chards or fish­ing in the river.

And he was al­ways there to teach us five kids and his four grand­kids life les­sons.

‘Treat peo­ple with re­spect and you will al­ways get along in life,’ he’d tell us wisely. Dad and our mum Betty raised us all on a farm in Morgan, giv­ing us the ideal child­hood.

In his early 70s, Dad slowly started suc­cumb­ing to de­pres­sion, com­pli­cated by di­a­betes and de­men­tia.

It hurt to see him like that – no longer able to care for the farm or even him­self.

Mum was de­ter­mined to keep him at home, where he be­longed, she said.

‘It’s what I have to do,’ she’d say de­fi­antly.

Along with great help from the lo­cal com­mu­nity, she was only too happy to look af­ter her amaz­ing hus­band and life com­pan­ion.

It took a dev­as­tat­ing toll on her though, and trag­i­cally, at age 69, Mum passed away from a heart at­tack.

Dad was heart­bro­ken – we could see it in his eyes.

It also meant Dad couldn’t stay on his beloved farm that he’d called home for over 50 years.

For the next six months, my brothers and sis­ters bat­tled with what to do.

‘He needs to go into care,’ we all agreed.

It was a tough de­ci­sion but we had no other choice.

No longer could Dad en­joy the

It was a tough de­ci­sion but we had no choice

free­dom of his farm, the sights of the or­ange or­chards or the chirp­ing of the birds.

But we found a re­spected aged care fa­cil­ity nearby and Dad moved in.

Dec­o­rat­ing his room with fam­ily pic­tures of the farm, I vis­ited Dad ev­ery day.

We hoped the pho­tos would bring back glim­mers of the old

Dad we knew and loved.

At age 76, Dad needed a walk­ing frame, suf­fered mem­ory prob­lems and re­quired con­stant as­sis­tance with hy­giene.

But for 12 years, Dad was looked af­ter by bril­liant and car­ing staff. By age 88, he was bed-bound and lost al­most all ver­bal abil­ity.

That year, the fa­cil­ity was sold to a larger, cor­po­rate or­gan­i­sa­tion.

‘It will be busi­ness as usual,’ we were told.

‘Noth­ing will change.’

But within 12 months, some of the more com­pas­sion­ate car­ers left.

And when I vis­ited Dad, then 89, I no­ticed some­thing sin­is­ter. Sus­pi­cious bruis­ing had ap­peared on his arms and legs.

Dad lost the sparkle in his eyes and his whole de­meanour had changed.

There was an in­ex­pli­ca­ble look of fear on his face that I couldn’t shake.

He even strug­gled to eat, one of his last life plea­sures.

‘Dad, what’s go­ing on?’ I’d ask. ‘Is your throat sore?’ But he couldn’t an­swer. We used to have a spe­cial, non-ver­bal bond – but it felt like that had dis­ap­peared.

When I re­ported the strange bruises, it led to noth­ing.

Af­ter months of no ac­tion, I de­cided to take mat­ters into my own hands.

As a last re­sort, I placed a tiny hid­den cam­era in his room and waited to check the tapes.

A few days later, I sat down to watch the video.

I fast­for­warded un­til I saw the carer come into the room.

In silent hor­ror, I watched as he grabbed a spoon and vi­o­lently shoved it into my beloved dad’s mouth.

When my poor dad re­sisted, the carer grabbed his frail arms and wres­tled with him. Tak­ing the servi­ette un­der his chin, the carer cov­ered Dad’s nose and mouth, ap­pear­ing to at­tempt to suf­fo­cate him.

I was be­yond hor­ri­fied.

Dad lost the sparkle in his eyes and there was fear on his face

My sweet, dad – who de­served dig­nity and re­spect – was be­ing hurt by this abuser.

How could he?

This was sup­posed to be some­one I could trust to keep Dad safe and cared for.

Shak­ing, I re­ported the abuse to the po­lice.

Af­ter­wards, de­tec­tives showed the ev­i­dence to the home op­er­a­tor.

Rather than apol­o­gis­ing and con­demn­ing the abuser, the op­er­a­tor threat­ened me with breach­ing the Pri­vacy Act, Sur­veil­lance De­vices

Act and the Aged Care acts.

And later, they said that if I was to put a cam­era in there again, it’d be con­fis­cated and the po­lice would be called.

While I would’ve been happy to go to prison for ex­pos­ing him, it was the carer who needed to be pun­ished – not me for try­ing to pro­tect my dad.

In June 2016, Corey Lyle Lu­cas, 29, ap­peared at Ade­laide Mag­is­trates Court and pleaded guilty to two counts of ag­gra­vated as­sault against my fa­ther, Clarence.

He re­ceived a six-month jail sen­tence, but only served one month in prison be­fore the rest was sus­pended.

The dis­turb­ing footage was then aired on TV.

Many view­ers said they had to switch it off, as it was too hard to watch.

Dad didn’t have a re­mote con­trol to stop the abuse he en­dured for 25 min­utes.

Sadly, our fa­ther passed away in Jan­uary 2017, age

91. When he died, he took a piece of my heart.

In his hon­our, I de­cided to cam­paign for leg­isla­tive re­form for the use of CCTV in care homes. I’m re­quest­ing rel­a­tives be al­lowed to in­stall eth­i­cal CCTV in rooms of loved ones, to re­store peace of mind and en­sure them a safe en­vi­ron­ment in the last years of their lives.

More than 45,000 peo­ple signed my pe­ti­tion for eth­i­cal sur­veil­lance cam­eras in pri­vate rooms in aged care.

Hope­fully, Dad’s story will mean it never hap­pens again.

With cam­eras hold­ing abusers ac­count­able, no-one else will suf­fer the way my dar­ling dad did.

I vis­ited Dadev­ery day

Footage cap­tured from my hid­den cam­era proved myworst night­mares

Corey Lu­cas pleaded guilty to ag­gra­vated as­sault

No-one de­serves treat­ment like my fa­thersuf­fered

My fa­ther Clarence and mother Betty

Clarry de­served care and to not be afraid

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