Apr 11, 2019

Family of sexual assault victim takes legal action against Bupa

 

The children of an aged care resident have launched legal action against Bupa, claiming the organisation failed in its duty of care to their mother.

Ron Jackson, the son of Jessie Jackson, who is living with dementia and was sexually assaulted by another resident at a Bupa aged care facility, told HelloCare that Bupa did not do enough to ensure their mother was safe.

Aged care residences should be aware of prior convictions

Mr Jackson said he would like to see changes in the aged care system.

For example, when a resident moves into aged care, it should be known if they have prior convictions, he said.

Mr Jackson is concerned the man who assaulted his mother is living at another home where staff may not know about his previous conviction while living at Bupa.

Security of tenure laws prevented resident offender being moved earlier

Mr Jackson said he’d also like to see changes around security of tenure in aged care.

He said Bupa said, due to security of tenure requirements, it was unable to remove the man from the facility, even though they knew he had sexually assaulted Mrs Jackson.

Bupa issued HelloCare with a statement, saying, “The resident who was charged was moved from our care home once alternative accommodation was found for him.

“We have security of tenure obligations to all of our residents under Commonwealth legislation, meaning moving a resident from our care home can be a lengthy and involved process,” the statement said.

Family had to “fight tooth and nail”

Mr Jackson said the magistrate was “very, very critical” of Bupa failing to remove the man from the facility after the sexual assault.

It was only when the magistrate imposed a 100 metre exclusion zone that Bupa was forced to have the man moved to a new facility.

“We had to fight tooth and nail for it,” Mr Jackson said.

Mr Jackson said the perpetrator’s own doctor said the man was a “narcissistic predator” and it was not appropriate that he was living in a nursing home with women. Mr Jackson said the man should be living in an all-male facility.

Bupa’s statement said, “We are very sorry this occurred and have apologised to the resident and her family. As this matter is before the courts, we are unable to comment further.”

Systemic failures in aged care system

Dr Catherine Barrett, director of Celebrate Ageing and the OPAL Institute, told HelloCare she applauded the Jackson family for speaking up about the issue and calling for change.

She said it was understandable that Mr Jackson’s family feels “hurt”, “appalled” and “frustrated”, and it was reasonable for them to expect the perpetrator would be removed from the facility when his inappropriate behaviour had been identified.

Dr Barrett said more needs to be done to cater for older people’s sexuality and to address systemic responses when “complex issues”, such as Mrs Jackson’s case, arise.

She said the government collects data on sexual assault, but does little with it other than report it.

Dr Barrett said the reports of alleged unlawful sexual contact need to be analysed, trends identified, and then best practice developed and guidelines developed for the industry.

For example, Dr Barrett said there has been a 40 per cent increase in the number of sexual assaults reported in aged care homes in the last year. In total there were 550 sexual assaults in the 2017-2018 year.

Dr Barrett said the actual number is probably higher because some cases are never identified, and because of an exception to mandatory reporting when an assault is perpetrated by someone with cognitive impairment.

Dr Barrett said aged care providers often have little to no education about the sexuality of older people, yet they often have to manage “really complex” issues.

She said there are no processes, systems, guidelines or best practice to follow to deal with the sexuality of older people, including when things go wrong.

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