Aged care: woman faced legal action over abuse recording

Noleen Hausler faced legal action simply for trying to protect her father.

Aged care: woman faced legal action over abuse recording

Suspicious about bruises on her 89-year-old father’s body and sure that her complaints weren’t being heard, Noleen Hausler took matters into her own hands.

Bedridden, unable to talk and suffering from end-stage dementia, Noleen’s father Clarence is at the mercy of those who care for him. Speaking to ABC’s 7.30, Ms Hausler was suspicious about the actions of one particular member of staff. "I thought long and hard about how I could actually get the evidence and the only way I could do that was to put in a video camera and film what was going on," she said.

Placing a small hidden camera in her father’s room at the aged care facility was the only way she could think of to protect her father. Within just two days, she witnessed her father’s carer, Corey Lyle Lucas, undertake shocking acts of abuse, including force-feeding Mr Hausler, sneeze on him, hold his arms down and what looks like attempted suffocation with a napkin.

Unsure of what to do, Ms Hausler chose to take the recording to the local police station as she realised the seriousness of the allegations.

The recording of the abuse led to an aggravated assault conviction for Lucas. However, the aged care facility did not terminate Lucas’ employment, he resigned.

What is perhaps even more surprising is that Ms Hausler herself almost ended up in trouble with the law. When shown the recordings of the abuse by the police, management at the care facility’s response was not to issue an apology or offer any empathy, but to forbid any further recordings by sending a cease and desist letter.

"[Mitcham Residential Care] said that I had breached [the] Privacy Act, the Aged Care Act and Video Surveillance Act," Ms Hausler said. "I was prepared to go to jail for whatever I did and if I'd breached whatever [Mitcham Residential Care] said I'd breached, I would be responsible for all that."

Adair Donaldson, lawyer for the Hauslers’ said they were fortunate that the recordings were admissible as they led to Lucas’ conviction, but as to whether or not what Ms Hausler did was legal, he thought, “the jury is out on that”. 

This particular case has added weight to the call for cameras in all aged care facilities. Caroline Barkla, from Aged Rights Advocacy Service Inc (ARAS) said that there was a need to understand that the percentage of residents in aged care with dementia is likely to increase and this should drive the needs for better processes. "We need to ensure that there [are] transparent processes in place to ensure all older people in residential care feel safe."


Opinion: The right to age with dignity

Thankfully, tales such as Ms Hausler’s are few and far between, but surely the least that can be expected when placing a loved one in aged care is that they are treated with dignity and respect?

Proving abuse or ill treatment of a family member in aged care is difficult, especially as it’s often tricky to know whether or not tales of abuse relayed by the person in care are true. I remember being slightly taken aback when my grandfather told me that his home-care assistant dragged him out of bed by his feet. Thankfully, this was merely a concoction of his over-active imagination, but you can easily understand how it could spark a panic.

But Mr Hausler wasn’t able to relay his concerns, making him all the more vulnerable and putting the onus on his daughter to try and ascertain what or who was causing her father’s bruises and why his demeanour changed.

By placing cameras in his room to enable her to get to the bottom of what was going on, Ms Hausler was deemed to have breached the Privacy Act, the Aged Care Act and the Video Surveillance Act – what a lot of nonsense! While I understand the rights of someone to go to work and not be filmed without their knowledge, the safety and dignity of a man unable to care for himself must be paramount. Is it asking too much that we expect those we trust with the care of our loved ones to do so respectfully?

Imagine if this had happened at a childcare centre. The outrage would have been expressed throughout the country and the repercussions would have been severe and far-reaching. But when it is an elderly person, who is perhaps deemed by society to have lived the best years of their lives, it doesn't even make the national news. Instead it’s confined to a report on the ABC’s 7.30 programme, the ratings of which are listed as 674,000 nationwide.

Ms Hausler should be commended for trusting her instincts and going to any lengths to ensure her father’s safety and dignity, which, in reality, should never have been put at risk.

What do you think? Do you think aged care facilities should have cameras? Do you think elderly people are treated with less importance than children? Do stories such as this make you fear entering an aged care facility?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    27th Jul 2016
    Yes / Yes / Yes the elderly need protecting
    Well done Ms Hausler
    27th Jul 2016
    I saw the story last night and thought that the facility should have been dragged through the courts when they launched an attack on Ms Hausler for recording the abuse. Sending a letter from the facility's solicitor threatening her was off the scale and should not be let lie. Hausler did the community a favour.
    On a wider note the whole Privacy Act is a sham. Not only does it provide the perfect mechanism for crooks to avoid being followed and made to account but it now works against people doing things which none of us would find other than wonderful.
    27th Jul 2016
    yes I do believe in the cameras. for both the patient and the carrers. I have recently had a relative in care for a short time [thankfully as she didn't want to be there].
    These carrers in most cases are not trained,and can easily be put in bad situations.
    I myself was put in a situation in a different situation where the lady I was cleaning for for many years was gradualy getting dementia. I had made comments regards different items over the years and because they had been given to me , the family were going to take leagal action[ this family never appeared until she needed to go into care.
    I was fortunate to have a neighbour to this person witness the gifting of the items.
    27th Jul 2016
    bignan, I think your comment about aged care workers being untrained is misinformed. Actually they do have training and qualifications at the Certificate III and IV levels. Because they are not nurses, their scope of work is limited in the services they can provide and this can be misunderstood.

    There are undoubtedly a few aged care workers who should not be in the sector (just as there are in every field) but these would be in a minority. The vast majority are hardworking, dedicated, compassionate professionals doing a very difficult job often in difficult circumstances and for very low pay.

    Weed out the bad apples but don't condemn the majority for the actions of the few.

    Your personal experience with the family and gifts is the very reason why there are protocols in place for professional aged care workers regarding the acceptance or otherwise of any gift made by their clients. As indeed there are for doctors who are bequeathed gifts in a will.
    27th Jul 2016
    bignan, it appears you were both untrained and unqualified for the work you did.
    27th Jul 2016
    You are one of those bustards I am referring on my post.
    How in hell you become a care worker ???? Is obvious you did not have any qualifications ....for sure

    I hope and pray you have to go to a home and received the same treatment you give to others.

    Insensitive and not to intelligent person to make this comment in the forum
    27th Jul 2016
    My thoughts too were YES, YES and YES. Although many Aged Care facilities do have great carers who do treat their elderly charges with care and respect, love and concern - sadly many do not and some are treated like objects instead of frail people who need extra care, love and respect.
    I think a big overhaul of Aged Care is needed. If you decide to go into this line of work, then you should do so with a heart of wanting to give these people some quality of life, love, care and respect. It should not just be a job but a vocation - you are CARERS remember.
    Golden Oldie
    27th Jul 2016
    The elderly, with dementia, can't speak up for themselves, they need protection.
    27th Jul 2016
    hear, hear!
    Queensland Diva
    27th Jul 2016
    This is a very hard situation. Yes, of course, our elderly, vulnerable citizens need to be protected, but there are many in nursing homes who are not quite so vulnerable and they certainly have the right to privacy that we all should enjoy. A blanket rule would certainly NOT be the answer here, and saying that the law might inconvenience some but would protect the majority, therefore it should be implemented is a very slippery slope indeed. I don't have the answer.
    27th Jul 2016
    What do you think?
    - I think the administrators of this aged care home should be in jail for failing their duty of care in the first place when they were made aware of the complaint and double the sentence for writing an obnoxious letter to this lady for filming the truth -
    - Do you think aged care facilities should have cameras?
    - Yes. We demand it, effective from today-
    Do you think elderly people are treated with less importance than children?
    - Yes. Just read the outrage about criminal juveniles being mistreated in a detention centre that the media have turned these criminals into celebrities-
    Do stories such as this make you fear entering an aged care facility?
    - The story causes great concern and resentment that the administrators of aged care facilities can be complicit in attempted murders by nursing staff. How many murders have been committed in aged care facilities that the authorities don't know about and the aged care administrators have hidden the facts?
    Dancing Queen
    27th Jul 2016
    Having a nearly 97 year old mother in a nursing home; hearing of this mistreatment is simply horrific. The daughter needs to be congratulated on the care and courage. I too hear of things from my mother and with partial dementia, I do not know whether these things are true or simply in her imagination. When I do mention things to the staff, they are very quick to turn things around on what Mum does to them! I look for evidence and have found none. To legalise cameras would be one way of overcoming these problems as family can't be there 24 hours a day. I hope that this is approved
    27th Jul 2016
    Very poor choice of wording here........ "Thankfully, tales such as Ms Hausler’s are few and far between,"

    I would think Ms Hausler would be incensed to read her account of what she did be interpreted as a "tale"!!

    Dictionary for "Tale"
    a narrative that relates the details of some real or imaginary event, incident, or case; story:
    a literary composition having the form of such a narrative.
    a falsehood; lie.
    a rumor or piece of gossip, often malicious or untrue.
    the full number or amount.
    Archaic. enumeration; count.
    Obsolete. talk; discourse.
    27th Jul 2016
    Strikey ....Can you contribute with intelligence or all you are is a walking bloody dictionary ???? come on just made an opinion and don't be an idiot walking dictionary

    You are a bloody joke

    I am sure you will insult me now he he he he Joker
    27th Jul 2016
    No need for insult..... the readers here will determine who is insulting.
    28th Jul 2016
    I'm with you strikey.
    Swinging voter
    27th Jul 2016
    I feel every aged care room should be fitted with video surveillance capacity. That way carers would not know whether or not they were being filmed and would think very carefully about their conduct. For resident privacy, the camera could be switched on at the request of a relative/concerned friend, or if management had any reason to be suspicious. I doubt if residents would want to be filmed every minute of the day and night.
    Swinging voter
    27th Jul 2016
    Further, where is Malcolm Turnbull - why not a Royal Commission into aged care? If you are a difficult young offender you are somebody. If you are an innocent elderly citizen, you are nobody.
    27th Jul 2016
    Quite so, the way those kids were handled wasn't the best, but I imagine that in a one to one situation they would have kicked, spat, hit and lashed out at anyone who approached them., but a frail elderly person is at the mercy of often less than caring carers., this is not an isolated case only fortunate that it was discovered. Carers in aged facilities are not well paid so they often get the dregs of job searchers, untrained and uncaring, that said on the other hand there are some very good and nice people but aged facilities are generally run for profit. It's can be a frustrating job especially when dealing with dementia patience who just don't understand what you want them to do. This is one reason we should have legal euthanasia, so we don't have to end up in these establishments!
    27th Jul 2016
    If the situation is as written then the responsible management people at the Aged Care Facility have proven beyond all doubt they are unfit to manage such facilities.Interesting to see if the relevant government Ministers will look at this or just hope it goes away; proving they are equally unfit for their job. Harsh, maybe but those in care come first.
    27th Jul 2016
    First, abuse of anyone by anyone is just plain wrong and perpetrators should be punished to the full extent of the law.

    Second, to attempt to play the elderly off against children in terms of who is more important is sickening.

    Third, this situation needs to be looked at without the highly charged emotion that inevitably accompanies it. Notwithstanding her reasons, Ms Hausler took the law into her own hands, contravened three and that cannot be condoned. To do so could result in vigilantism.

    There are many reasons people may fear going into an aged care facility, but I doubt that fear of this type of abuse would be near the top, given that despite its shocking nature it is still a very rare event. I would suggest there is far more elder abuse happening in the person's own home by family members than happens in aged care facilities by aged care workers. What are you going to do then? Put cameras in every room in every home where an elderly person is being cared for? Who would monitor that?

    And finally, even if cameras were installed in residents rooms in aged care facilities, would it stop any abuse? It didn't stop those prison officers in the NT did it?

    Of course the vulnerable (of any age) should be protected but that should not be at the expense of condemning all those working with the vulnerable to the role of abuser.
    27th Jul 2016
    "Ms Hausler took the law into her own hands, contravened three and that cannot be condoned. To do so could result in vigilantism"
    - I think you have rocks in your head with that comment KSS. Because, had Ms Hausler not taken her suspicions to the next level after they were dismissed by the administrators of the aged care facility, Ms Hausler, the police, the media and the public would never have found out the homicidal character of that member of the staff, nor would the public have found out about the obnoxious attitude and lack of duty of care in aged care management. There are times when one needs to step outside of gagging privacy laws to expose the truth.
    What privacy law did she break as a concerned daughter of her father's health treatment if Ms Hausler had his power of attorney and power of a guardian? -
    Not Senile Yet!
    27th Jul 2016
    Kiss...whilst I agree with your view of Not is 2016....the technology is there and affordable.
    Security Cameras work well in just about every Workplace....including hospitals etc....There is NOT a Valid reason preventing there use in Aged Care!
    If used properly they can be of Great Assistance not just to Spy.....but to also protect the Staff from unjust accusations....and as a tool to solve problems!
    I worked for many years in high security.....where theft was a problem.....amazingly it stopped after security cameras were installed....catching the bad apples and dismissing them!
    I think an honest worker should Not fear them.....but welcome a better way to Check up on the Rotten Apples.....because they prove you are honest and protect Both the patient and the Carer!
    27th Jul 2016
    Absolutely, YES.
    27th Jul 2016
    That the 'innocent have nothing to fear' has been the excuse for the erosion of privacy for years and does not make universal recording right. Are you going to put cameras in the bathrooms too?
    27th Jul 2016
    While the government of the country and popular sports normalise violence it evokes tacit permission and approval for instinctive bullies to act this way.

    While Morrison and whomever happens to be the Minister for Immigration use words of exclusion and allow acts of degradation to occur in any government facility - homes for the aged, in our gaols and so on, then it will happen in society. It will happen in homes where violence against women is perpetrated, for example.

    The fish rots from the head first. Society rots from the head first. Respect MUST be evident at the top of society if we want it to be shown within society.

    While the right wing of the Coalition and fruit loops like Pauline Hansen give overt and tacit permission to bullies then the bullies are reassured that violence against the weak and vulnerable is OK, then violence and degradation will flourish. Look at some Middle Eastern societies for example, that seem to know nothing else but violence and degradation - all incited from the top, from the leaders of these communities.

    Two things would make and immediate difference:

    Firstly, violence in televised sport should be named for what it is - violence, and it should be considered as it would be on the streets of our society, as assault. What is not OK in society is not Ok in sport.

    Secondly, politicians and religious leaders of all persuasions should be aware that retribution, violent acts and violent talk allow and breed violence in society. They are as responsible for acts of violence and degradation as the perpetrators. So they need to change their messages to demonstrate that they value kindness and caring. Yes - they actually have use those two words, again and again. Most of all though, they need to lead by EXAMPLE.
    27th Jul 2016
    Scrivener you seem not to understand that immigration by its very nature IS discriminatory. You either meet the criteria or you don't. Those that don't, don't get past the borders. Every country is exactly the same - just the criteria might differ in some respects.

    Unless you are advocating for the removal of all borders and therefore all border control in every country then what you say makes absolutely no sense. If you maintain that exclusion should have no part to play in immigration, I assume you would be quite happy for say a known convicted drug dealing, paedophile rapist from say New Zealand to be living next door and with access to your young grandchildren?

    Likewise you talk about 'acts of degradation to occur in any government facility - homes for the aged in our gaols....' being to blame for such things in society! Really! You blame 226 (150 + 76 senators) elected representatives against the rest of the 25 million population? I think you afford those 226 representatives way too much influence over the individual behaviour of the rest of us.
    27th Jul 2016
    KSS, I have no idea what you are talking about. Did I use a 'hot button' word that set you off? In any case I hope ventilating this way brings oxygen back to your lungs and makes you feel better. I did not express a view of any kind about immigration. My point is that tacit approval of violence and degradation by our leaders helps to normalise violence and degradation. My plea was for these leaders of our nation to show leadership and normalise kindness and caring.
    27th Jul 2016
    He he he she got you he he he do not give the time of day just ignored ....the same with all of us ..part of a group of people in this forum that really creating major problems and insults just ignored
    27th Jul 2016
    AGAIN AND AGAIN ........

    DO WE HAVE THE...... "RIGHT TO BE PROTECTED" under our Law ??? Looks that there is something missing .........BILL OF RIGHTS for our civil protection is really needed in AUstralia no questions on my mind.

    Goverments has the obligation to protect the citizens in all respects specially aged persons ..... This abused is not new has been on for many many years now ...I refuse to go to a Home because of that ...... I prefer to Die on the street buy respected and happy rather than on the hand of this bustards.

    But not all careers are the same there are many of them beautiful people and really help the age person and happy to do always with smile that is nice to see.
    ex PS
    27th Jul 2016
    Unfortunately the providers of care for our older citisens are driven by profit, dignity and respect don't really come into it.
    Each facility should have a board made up of staff, relatives and clients, all meetings should be minuted and open for scrutiny by independent auditors. This is the only way that the needs of the clients can be identified and acted upon.
    One of the main shortcomings of successive governments is this obsession with self monitoring of business activities, it has been proven time and again that most industries that are allowed to self regulate put profits above best practice work processes.
    28th Jul 2016
    Under Aged Care Act 1997 with Amendment 2007 Security & Protection which was introduced by a Federal Labor Government, each facility is required to abide by established Accreditation Standards. Audit of each Facility is conducted & given 3 year Accreditation, however if a standard/s are not met then Facility will be given a lesser Accreditation & be audited yearly.
    Successful Accreditation is necessary as funding from Federal Government is linked to Accreditation. Unfortunately, it has become necessary despite Legislation for Quality Care which this Act is about funding isn't about quality of education of Carers but about how many hands are needed to do the work for least expense which isn't about education. Most Facilities used to have Facility Manager who was a Registered Nurse for more than 5 years experience, many 20 or more years experience, some had Management Degree qualifications as well, Registered Nurses many with Psychiatric, Geriatric, Palliative Care, Continence Care, Wound Management Qualifications, Enrolled Nurses & Assistant in Nursing delivering care but since the introduction of Aged Care Act & States giving up their rights to policing Aged Care Facilities, now one is hard pressed to find more than ONE Registered Nurse, Enrolled Nurses now have more responsibilities which has been legislated but don't have education or training & Cert 3 Carers are simply not educated to do the job properly without appropriate supervision from Registered Nurses, it is about money. Some facilities don't have a Manager who is a Registered Nurse any more, some are Enrolled Nurses whilst majority of Carers are Cert 3. Downgrade of educationally qualified staff is harder to maintain & ensure Standards are met & ensure quality of life for our aged population in Aged Care Facilities, which is the primary objective of the Aged Care Act. I am not saying that majority of staff don't care but the quality of care delivered what I am saying is if one doesn't have the education & controlled experience gained by education the quality of care delivered is hit & miss. Labor did introduce the Aged Care Act in 1997 but since then we have had successive Liberal & Labor Federal Governments who have added to the demise of quality Aged Care in Australia.
    27th Jul 2016
    Yes, most definately, although their are some absolutely marvellous people working in aged care which is not an easy occupation. Not only can residents in Aged Care Facilities at risk of abuse but these days, staff are quiet often not substantially trained to deal with residents who have Dementia or are sometimes just lazy much to the detriment to the resident. Especially the vulnerable ones with Dementia or Alzheimers Desease who cannot complain or are taken seriously
    27th Jul 2016
    The article states thankfully this sort of treatment is rare. Or is it? My late mother spent some time prior to her death in a rehabilitation facility following hip surgery. During the time I visited I witnessed other patients being roughly treated, sneered at when asking for just basic assistance and being yelled at as 'her' and 'she' rather than being called respectfully Mrs This or That, or even called by their first names. One day my husband and I arrived to discover my mother in tears after having been told that she was going to be 'forced' to sell her house. I told my mother, 'Over my dead body'. How dare staff threaten the elderly and treat them with such disrespect. The tip of the iceberg, if this is how they treat people when there are observers, how do they treat the patients when there are not?
    28th Jul 2016
    My mother was about to die in a nursing home with the geriatrician telling us he was the expert - and he proposed to let he go that week. My sister stepped in, took her home and she live another rich and full two years as dementia slowly eroded her identity. She took a fall and was dead in a week of that. Not a case of violence, or wilful degradation, but of potential neglect due to the directives to carers by a blowhard doctor. The 'experts' don't always know best.
    28th Jul 2016
    No mean feat trying to determine the findings of this forum subject.
    From personal observations of the retirement industry, within & without, I've had cause to wonder about a couple of points:
    Will "Employee qualifications and/or Certification" identify or isolate psychopaths (at worst) or opportunists from entering/operating in this industry. I seriously doubt it.
    Residential Care is an Industry - Industry is about business and business is all about profits. Industry standards are just that, standards - the greater the degree of competition then the profits will be the first to register it, Woolworths is a good case in point here.
    Whether this most recent case maybe an isolated incident is questionable when we can recall the Vic? nursing home that was torched by a 'carer'. Another home where extortion of patients was being perpetrated - again a 'carer'. And so on and so forth.
    It's convenient for our affluent society to 'park' our aged relo's in these facilities which thereby permits us to pursue our caravan/overseas trips and personal indulgences whilst turning a blind eye to the very issue that will confront each one of us sooner rather than later.
    Varying levels of service are to be found within this Industry. From my experience we mostly get what we're prepared to pay for, this in turn may ultimately be what our family is prepared to pay for, if and when we're at their mercy. Thereafter the well being of 'residents' is at the mercy of staff/management with oversight from family. As is evident with the recent example the resident - independently incapable, was then mistreated by a staff member. Since this issue was taken up by a commercial TV show: in itself a practice nowadays, when people or sometime 'victims' have not received (their perception of) satisfaction, almost instantly the rabid hounds are baying for blood.
    Although I certainly do not condone the despicable actions of a strictly limited few I will rise to the defence of the majority of care Industry employees who daily have to contend with the very matters that most the rest of us shy away from. To suggest that CCTV should be installed is downright appalling & for those so suggesting then I'd like to suggest that they personally take responsibility for their own family members & as they wish to video proceedings, so be it. We may all learn something as a result !
    Limited numbers of these 'in care' folks' behaviour can be disheartening & to have to deal with it daily requires an ability that we should be looking to support in a compassionate and considerate manner. Not intruding on both carer and cared by means of CCTV.
    Ms Hausler's intention , by recording her father's 'mistreatment' s may have been honourable however, the moment she submitted her findings to commercial TV resulted in attention I very much doubt she welcomed.
    More laws, expanding the power of the 'nanny state', CCTV or muck raking TV will do little to protect the weak & feeble. It is the incumbent responsibility of immediate family members to ensure the relevant Industry standards are adequate without resorting to video recording of, at best, a sad situation. Made sadder perhaps by the very fact that we each of us will have to contend with our own demons.
    30th Jul 2016
    '' The jury is out on that,'' said this lady's lawyer.
    Not this bloody juror!
    Put me on any jury where someone is being mistreated and if evidence is shown of mistreatment of someone who can't defend themselves, I will use it in convicting someone.
    Bullying is bullying and any means to show it is morally legal in my book.
    14th Nov 2017
    YES This has always been my biggest fear being in a Nursing Home. It seems the Government would rather we all just curl up and die.They have enough money for their own perks but not enough to protect and care for the elderly. I would not say that cameras are needed in all rooms but certainly in rooms where it is suspected abuse is occuring and it should be legal to install them. Residents should be able to expect privacy as well as care. I have seen some of the food served in these places and would not serve them to a dog. These residents in Nursing Homes should be cared for with dignity and respect not like robots.

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