THE CHIEF at one of Australia's biggest aged care providers has choked up at a royal commission while apologising after a carer was caught on camera abusing a man, but denies there is a systemic problem.
Noleen Hausler used a hidden camera to expose the abuse of her bedridden father in 2015 at Mitcham Residential Care Facility in Adelaide, operated by Japara Healthcare, and carer Corey Lucas was later jailed.
Lucas force-fed 89-year-old Clarence Hausler, pinned down his arms, held a napkin over his face and aggressively twisted his nose.
Japara co-founder and chief executive Mark Sudholz admitted at the aged care royal commission in Perth that he once described Ms Hausler as vexatious and seeking financial gain.
But he choked up as he apologised for what happened to her father, who was mistreated twice by Lucas and once by an agency employee over 10 days.
"It's an event that a regret and I wish it didn't happen," Mr Sudholz said on Tuesday.
I'm sorry it happened ... I'm disappointed we let you down.
The board has introduced extra training but Mr Sudholz denies there is a "culture of impunity" at Mitcham.
Senior counsel assisting the commission Peter Rozen previously said there had been 298 assaults against residents across Japara's 49 homes between September 2015 and May this year.
Japara was required to report the initial complaint from Ms Hausler - days before the most serious attack on her father - within 24 hours of being notified, but it took more than two months.
Mr Sudholz said he backed the judgment of now-retired executive director of aged care services Julie Reed, who said based on the information she had at the time it was not a reportable incident.
The commission heard Ms Hausler was accused of stalking and management also tried to undermine her application to become her father's guardian because they were concerned she would put a camera back in his room.
"It was a complex issue with the CCTV and we were seeking legal advice," Ms Reed said.
Mr Sudholz said the company would soon launch a pilot program trialling cameras in some residents' rooms at one facility, which Ms Hausler has been pushing for.
A major focus for the commission this week is person-centred care, which Alzheimer's WA head of dementia practice and innovation Jason Burton says is a philosophy rather than a model of care.
"There are places that are doing amazing work in this space ... there are places that are saying they're doing it and they're not even close to doing it and there's everything in between," he said.
Mr Burton said people genuinely wanted to do it but leadership and culture were critical factors.
"We very quickly strip away the human rights of people living with dementia, we assume they're no longer able to provide any choice or control," he said.
"People, given the right environment, are quite capable of making choices and that continues a long way into the dementia journey."
He said more staff would not help.
The commission also heard evidence about a good example of relationship-based care from 79-year-old Kevin Chester, who lives near his wife and "soulmate" Marie, who is at an aged care facility in NSW operated by Whiddon Group.
"We are separate but never apart," he said.
Australian Associated Press