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Secret camera captures nursing home 'suffocation' -

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SABRA LANE, PRESENTER: Tonight, a case of shocking elder abuse, which advocates say is on the rise in nursing homes across Australia.

If it wasn't for a daughter's secretly-placed video camera, the physical abuse of her father might still be happening.

Andy Park reports on this disturbing case in Adelaide, and a warning: this story contains images that may upset some viewers.

NOLEEN HAUSLER, CLARENCE HAUSLER'S DAUGHTER: My dad is a very quiet, moralistic, genuine, caring father.

ANDY PARK, REPORTER: Today, like every day, Noleen Hausler is visiting her 89-year-old father in his Adelaide nursing home.

NOLEEN HAUSLER: Dad at the moment has got end-stage dementia, so he needs total 24/7 care. He's bed-ridden. He's very restricted with his ability to be able to communicate, even though he still can and mostly that is probably with me because I know him so well.

ANDY PARK: So well in fact, that last year she saw signs in her father's blank expression that concerned her.

How frustrating is it to have a loved one who can't communicate the trauma they're going through?

NOLEEN HAUSLER: I knew what was happening was wrong, but to other people who perhaps didn't know him as well, it didn't seem to be taken on as seriously as what I thought it was. To me, I had no option but to do what I did to protect my father.

ANDY PARK: Clarence Hausler became a resident at the Mitcham Residential Care Facility, or MRCF, in 2002.

NOLEEN HAUSLER: It was owned by Whelan Care and they were very good. They had lots of staff, very enthusiastic staff, there was lots of activities going on. It just had a great atmosphere.

ANDY PARK: But she says care standards dropped when a subsidiary of one of Australia's largest private health care providers, Japara Healthcare, took over.

NOLEEN HAUSLER: They were cutting costs, so the less expensive options were what was going to be available. And just generally, the care wasn't the same.

ANDY PARK: Noleen Hausler began noticing odd bruises on her father's body.

NOLEEN HAUSLER: I got to a point that I felt I wasn't being heard and I was suspicious of a certain staff member.

ANDY PARK: That staff member was 29-year-old carer Corey Lyle Lucas. She was so concerned about his evasive behaviour during her visits that she bought a tiny spy camera, concealed it in her father's room and waited.

NOLEEN HAUSLER: On the day that I retrieved the camera, I'd been in to see Dad and he had been crying, he had bloodshot eyes and he certainly looked scared. I just thought there'd be something that would tell me a little bit more to confirm perhaps what I thought Mr Lucas had done. But I wasn't prepared for what I saw, at all.

ANDY PARK: The video appears to show Corey Lucas eating Mr Hausler's food using his cutlery, flicking Mr Hausler's face, sneezing on him, tapping the back of his head, repeatedly force-feeding him and he appeared to pin down Mr Hausler's arms when he resisted. But then, she saw this:

NOLEEN HAUSLER: I honestly didn't know what to do first. I thought about ringing the facility because I was scared for my father's safety and so I went down to the Sturt Police Station and I presented it to the front counter.

ANDY PARK: Corey Lucas pleaded guilty and was convicted on two counts of aggravated assault.

NOLEEN HAUSLER: Three weeks is all he had to serve of a 10-month sentence.

ANDY PARK: But if Noleen Hausler expected MRCF to be on her side, she was wrong. The company initially offered her counselling, but then followed up with a threatening letter.

NOLEEN HAUSLER: She said that I had breached Privacy Act, the Aged Care Act and Video Surveillance Act. And her initial response was that, "Right, let's see what we have to do about this."

ADAIR DONALDSON, THE HAUSLER'S LAWYER: Instead of offering Noleen empathy, they instead sent her a letter to cease and desist from filming as if she was the problem.

ANDY PARK: In a statement to 7.30, MRCF apologised over the incident and for the tone of the letter, saying:

MRCF SPOKESPERSON (female voiceover): "This conduct is not tolerated by our organisation and is completely at odds with the care, dedication and commitment displayed by the over 4,500 nurses, cares and other staff across our homes every day."

ANDY PARK: What happens to Clarence Hausler is not an isolated case.

Aged care advocates say there's an imbalance of power between clients and nursing homes, a balance which could be struck with more CCTV.

DAVID CLINTON, THE HAUSLER'S AGED CARE ADVOCATE: Yes, there is a problem from time to time with transparency because we're working with frail, aged, vulnerable people who sometimes have diminished capacity.

CAROLANNE BARKLA, AGED RIGHTS ADVOCACY SERVICE INC.: 50 per cent of all older people in residential aged care currently have a diagnosis of dementia like Mr Hausler. It is really important to understand that this is likely to increase. We need to ensure that there's transparent processes in place to ensure all older people in residential aged care feel safe.

NOLEEN HAUSLER: What I would like to see as an outcome from this is the provision that video surveillance is available to anybody in residential care who doesn't have a voice.

ANDY PARK: MRCF has cameras in common areas, but says it won't allow them in private rooms.

ADAIR DONALDSON: I want to make this quite clear. We're not talking about this being in public places. We're talking about this being in a private room. We're talking about being in a place where the resident has the right to quiet enjoyment.

ANDY PARK: The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner is currently reviewing the case. Meanwhile, Clarence Hausler is still cared for in the same facility.

NOLEEN HAUSLER: Oh, it's very uneasy. Very uneasy

ANDY PARK: So why is your father still there?

NOLEEN HAUSLER: Because I'm going to get it right. I am going to be insistent. I am going to be there. They are going to face me every day. It was a good facility, so there's no reason why it can't be again.

SABRA LANE: Andy Park reporting.