A surveillance camera installed in a resident’s bedroom has uncovered ongoing abuse from staff, the aged care royal commission has heard.

The royal commission opened its fifth public hearing in Perth on Monday, focusing on person-centred care, palliative care services and advance care planning.

In his opening address, senior counsel assisting Peter Rozen said the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has received 4,564 submissions to date.

Mr Rozen said person-centred care has been raised in 37 per cent of all submissions the aged care royal commission has received. Independence, choice and control over care has been raised in 33 per cent of submissions and end-of-life care in 27 per cent.

The aged care royal commission on Monday inquired into the care of Clarence Haulser, an 89-year old resident at Japara Healthcare Limited’s Mitcham facility in Kingswood, Adelaide.

Clarence’s daughter Noleen Hausler, a former facility manager, quality manager and former director of aged care services at Japara Healthcare gave evidence on Monday’s hearing.

The inquiry heard that Clarence who was living with severe dementia at the Mitcham facility for 13 years and required assistance with all aspects of daily living, including eating. Japara took over the Mitcham facility in 2014.

Noleen Hausler, who regularly visited her father, told the royal commission that by August 2015, she had concerns about the wellbeing of her father, including his weight loss, a pressure sore on his right ankle, a toenail infection and unusual bruising.

“With dad being totally bedridden, it was unusual that he could actually do it to himself, or most of it was dismissed because I didn’t have any evidence as it how it was caused,” Ms Haulser told the inquiry.

After raising concerns with management at the facility and dissatisfied with their response, Ms Hausler installed hidden cameras in her father’s bedroom.

The footage revealed that Mr Hausler was forced food into his mouth, pushed, shoved and physically assaulted.

Ms Haulser said watching the footage made her feel ‘terrible’.

“I had no idea that someone could possibly do that. I felt for Dad in the fact that I didn’t protect him sufficiently,” she said.

Ms Hausler reported the incident to Japara in September 2015, which was reported in Japara’s incident report two months later in November 2015.

Julie Reed

Japara had wrongly accused Ms Hausler for violating the Aged Care Act 1997 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act by installing the hidden camera. They also accused her of stalking the staff at the nursing home.

Julie Reed, former director of aged care services at Japara told the royal commission that it was not reasonable to use force on their residents, such as the force Mr Hausler experienced.

“It’s not reasonable to move someone inappropriately or position them inappropriately,” Ms Reed said.

When questioned about whether relationships between staff and residents’ families were important in delivering quality care, Ms Reed agreed.

The hearings continues this week.

To stay up to date on the latest about the Royal Commission into Aged Care and Quality go to our special coverage. We will also be issuing regular Royal Commission Roundup reports which you’ll receive in addition to your weekly e-newsletters.

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  1. This seems to be happening all over our country. It is so disturbing to think that humans would treat people like this. First if I all I am sure there is not enough training. Staff are hard to find to work in these places,so corners are cut. I worked in a nursing home back in the early seventies,we only had 21 beds, and we really grew to love a patients. Unfortunately these small places were all closed down as the big companies took over and now it is all about making money.
    I am not looking forward to needing up in any one of these places. Rather leave the planet in my own way when the time comes.

  2. I have to agree with the previous response.I too have worked in aged care,in my case I stopped in the late nineties.then it was the beginning of the expansion of facilities ,becoming larger.the good part was the introduction of single rooms for residents but. The level of care was not as good.we did have enrolled nurses and trained nurses aids and there was certainly no neglect or ill treatment of residents, there was supervision and though not problem free,anything untoward was addresses. I am now a resident of Lewisham aged care,and though I am fairly low care, I am able to observe the workings of staff.Thankfully we have mostly very good staff who have been here for a long time.My concern is that they are appreciated and we don’t lose them because. Of their workload and my fear is that new staff are not carefully selected.Please do not install cameras in rooms,they are not necessary if staff are properly supervised

  3. I work in aged care and have done for 30 years. The levels of abuse i have heard since the Royal Commission began is astounding and something i have never encountered.
    However, bad practice does occur. I currently work in a facility that is contemplating cameras in all residents rooms with the ability for families to log in externally, night or day, to monitor their family. I find that very concerning. My mother would not want that level of intrusion, neither would i. Whos going to decide who has access?

    Im all for cameras-a portable one that can be used anywhere at anytime when a concern is raised. Including against a family member for assaulting their loved one-i see more of that thananything else.

    many staff are leaving ageed care now, since the Royal Commission began. Good Staff that have had enough of the constant barrage they receive from the press and families. And whilst i agree theRoyal commission needs to occur as there is, obviously, very poor practice in this area, most facilities are running at a loss and are struggling to employ.
    It is also very difficult to performance mange any staff member out the door in Australia due to tough workplace laws. major risk to a resident by not following a care plan causing a significant injury-but you can not dismiss them, they need retraining. Retraining occured x5 prior to the incident due to other incidents but we were unable to dismiss them after the final event occured. That needs to be dealt with also. That care worker is still employed in the same company.

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