Australia

Aged care CEO chokes up over man's abuse

The chief at a major aged care provider says he is sincerely sorry for the ill treatment of a man who was abused by a carer in 2015, which was caught on camera.

The chief executive of one of Australia's biggest aged care providers has choked up at a royal commission while apologising to the daughter of a man who was filmed being violently abused by a carer.

Noleen Hausler filmed on hidden camera the abuse of her bedridden father in 2015 at Mitcham Residential Care Facility in Adelaide, operated by Japara Healthcare Limited, and carer Corey Lucas was later jailed.

The shocking video shows Lucas force-feeding 89-year-old Clarence Hausler, pinning down his arms and holding a napkin over his face while aggressively twisting his nose.

The incident is being examined as a case study at the aged care royal commission in Perth.

Japara chief executive Mark Sudholz admitted he once described Ms Hausler as vexatious, but choked up as he apologised for the poor care provided 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 introduced extra training following Mr Hausler's experience but Mr Sudholz dismissed suggestions of a systemic issue and denied there was a culture of impunity at Mitcham.

"Excluding the Mr Hausler event, the care in Mitcham is good and strong," he said.

The company cared for 4000 residents at 49 homes, Mr Sudholz said.

Senior counsel assisting the commission, Peter Rozen, previously told the commission there had been 298 assaults against Japara residents 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.

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 more a philosophy 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."

Mr Burton said more staff would not help deliver person-centred care.

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