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
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