Horrifying allegations of abuse and neglect have rocked Perth’s leafy western suburbs, as police investigate two deaths at an aged care facility.
Horrifying allegations of abuse and neglect have rocked Perth’s leafy western suburbs, as police investigate two deaths at an aged care facility.

Shocking abuse allegations before deaths

Police are examining the deaths of two aged care residents in Perth as part of an investigation into allegations of abuse, which were revealed by work experience students.

Detectives recently launched a probe into allegations at Regis Aged Care's Nedlands facility, in Perth's leafy western suburbs, and on Friday police confirmed two residents had since died.

"The circumstances surrounding their deaths will be reviewed," police said in a statement.

The two residents who died this week are great-grandfather Dik Lee, 94, and an 86-year-old man.

University students alleged they saw the wheelchair-bound and unclothed Mr Lee being dragged along the floor in his own faeces.

Mr Lee's family said he had dementia and was unable to wake from a five-day coma at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

His daughter said she was angry and felt like his life had been robbed.

"My dad was being stepped on the bare toe, on bare feet, and he was being yanked up," she told 9 News.

She said her father had lost all feeling in his feet, was dehydrated, and may not have been receiving his diabetes and blood pressure medication.

"How could someone do that to a frail old lady or gentleman? I just couldn't believe it," she said.

Dik Lee, 94, died in hospital this week. Source: 9 News
Dik Lee, 94, died in hospital this week. Source: 9 News

Fran Veltman has also expressed concern about the wellbeing of her 87-year-old mother, who has dementia and is believed to have been poorly treated at the facility where she has been living since 2018.

Ms Veltman told NCA NewsWire she first received a call last week to tell her there were allegations made by students about the ill-treatment of her mother, including rough handling.

"They were tight-lipped about what it was," she said on Friday.

"There was also an allegation about indecent contact involving a male nurse requesting my mother kiss and hug him."

Ms Veltman said there had been two separate alleged incidents and she had since spoken to police about it.

"That completely took me by surprise because my mum is compliant," she said.

"She's not someone who's difficult (to care for) ... it's not a struggle with her."

It was only later that she realised it was more serious than she had been led to believe.

"I'm really, really upset about the whole thing. I don't know what to do about it," she said.

Ms Veltman said there had been incidents in the past when her mother had fallen, including a tear on her arm around Christmas in 2019, but she never thought it could be the result of abuse.

"I thought that was not in any way related to abuse or neglect, but now I do wonder about that," she said.

Dulcie Veltman, 87, was allegedly abused at an aged care facility in Perth. Picture: Supplied
Dulcie Veltman, 87, was allegedly abused at an aged care facility in Perth. Picture: Supplied

Regis said it took all abuse allegations very seriously and apologised for any distress caused.

Senior management are also conducting their own investigation, separate to the police probe.

"We reported the allegations to the required regulatory bodies within 24 hours and will transparently support any investigation that they may also complete," the statement read.

"The management and team members at Regis Nedlands are deeply saddened that any resident may have received anything less than the professional, compassionate care we seek to deliver to every resident every day."

Regis has not responded to further requests for comment from NCA NewsWire.

WA Premier Mark McGowan described the abuse allegations as very disturbing.

"(It's) terribly sad for their families, and no doubt very confusing and distressing for families," he told reporters on Friday.

"The commonwealth government needs to step up here as well because aged care is their responsibility.

"Police are investigating to see if there are any criminal matters involved here."

It comes more than two years after the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was launched, with the final report to be provided by February 26.

According to experimental estimates by the royal commission's office, about 39.2 per cent of people living in Australian aged care facilities experience elder abuse in the form of neglect, emotional abuse or physical abuse.

The most prevalent was estimated to be neglect, experienced by 30.8 per cent of people, followed by emotional abuse at 22.6 per cent and physical abuse at five per cent.

Originally published as Shocking abuse allegations before deaths


‘It sounded like someone was being murdered’

Premium Content ‘It sounded like someone was being murdered’

Irish backpackers' complaints soon took on a more sinister tone

REVEALED: When and where our frontline workers will get jab

Premium Content REVEALED: When and where our frontline workers will get jab

Dates have been announced for the arrival of vaccine hubs in regional areas, as...