To her, the campus is a great place for the residents, who get their own rooms, bathrooms and share common areas and recreation areas. Austin even gets to go bowling, see movies or get coffee with staff some days, she said.
“He’s safer here (at SWITC) than at our house,” Frank Beale said.
NAMPA — The Southwest Idaho Treatment Center has been in the news over the past year for allegations of abuse and neglect, wrongful death lawsuits and police investigations.
But after many conversations with staff ensuring Austin’s safety and new cameras being set up to monitor areas of the buildings, Shirley Beale said she is again at ease.
Initially the news of the former employees and what happened to Rinehart scared Shirley Beale.
Austin is 24 years old but has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old, Frank Beale said. He also has bipolar disorder and severe anxiety. One of the ways he copes with his anxiety is by eating items that have no nutritional value, a disorder called pica, Shirley Beale said.
The Beales talk on the phone almost every day with Austin, who calls his parents an average of three times a day, according to Shirley Beale. Every other weekend, they switch off from Austin staying two nights with them on the weekend to having an entire Sunday with him.
Shirley Beale said it becomes especially difficult for SWITC staff when there is not enough staff on a shift.
Austin was put into a group home, where he stayed for about three years until he was 16, but the staff there could not properly take care of him. The Beales said he occasionally has bouts of aggression.