Aged Care Royal Commission hears Japara Healthcare CEO dismiss patient assault numbers

| 25.06,19. 10:52 PM |

Aged Care Royal Commission hears Japara Healthcare CEO dismiss patient assault numbers

(ABC News)

The chief executive and co-founder of Japara Healthcare Limited, which has come under heavy criticism in the Royal Commission into Aged Care, has dismissed any suggestion there is a systemic problem with staff assaults on residents in his 49 nursing homes.

Andrew Sudholz also revealed the company was about to launch a small pilot program trialling CCTV cameras in the rooms of several residents at one facility.

It was a small victory for Noleen Hausler, who has advocated for the cameras to be used to protect residents who were unable to defend themselves or raise the alarm against abuse.

Her late father Clarence Hausler had dementia and was mostly nonverbal when a CCTV camera she installed in his room at a Japara aged care facility revealed he was assaulted three times over 10 days in 2015.

The way she and her father were treated by Japara has come under scrutiny since the commission began its Perth hearings yesterday.

Commissioners Lynelle Briggs and Richard Tracey are looking at whether there are systemic issues of elder abuse in aged care facilities.

They were told yesterday that almost 300 mandatory reports of suspected assaults on the company's 4,000 residents by staff were made by the facility between September 2015 and May 2019.

But Mr Sudholz said that he believed fewer than 100 of these were substantiated.

"I think that's a small number," he said.

Mr Sudholz also apologised to Ms Hausler for the treatment of her father and herself.

"I'm sorry you had to go through the circumstances you did and I'm sorry we let you down," he said.

The commission has heard that after raising concerns with the company and authorities about her father's abuse, Ms Hausler was accused of stalking by Japara management, which also tried to undermine her application to become her father's guardian because they were concerned she would put a CCTV camera back in his room.

Just two weeks after Mr Hausler died in early 2017, Mr Sudholz wrote an email to a staff member criticising Ms Hausler's persistent complaints about Japara.

"This has been about financial gain to her and the actions she has taken is for the purpose of putting us under pressure and forcing a settlement, which [we] will not do," he wrote.

Two months earlier, he had written to Japara board members about "the vexatious approach by Noleen Hausler and her activist group".

The company only reported two of the assaults after prompting by the Department of Health or a newspaper article weeks or months afterwards.

Under aged care laws, aged care providers must make mandatory reports of allegations of unreasonable assault within 24 hours of the incident.

Outside the hearing, Ms Hausler said she accepted Mr Sudholz's apology and had forgiven those involved.

But she said her quest for justice was not finished.

"Until we successfully have the opportunity for anybody who is as vulnerable as Dad was to have the cameras in their room for their safety, I don't think my job is yet complete," she said.


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