Police have arrested a man following a “disgraceful” assault at an aged care facility on Sydney’s northern beaches.
Police have alleged that a 35-year-old staff member assaulted an elderly resident.
A video filmed between 26 August and 29 August 2018, shows the staff member repeatedly hitting the 82-year-old man with a shoe, roughly pulling off his shirt, and dragging him down on the bed.
The member of staff was arrested on Wednesday and taken to Manly Police Station, where he was charged with two counts of common assault (DV), and use of an offensive weapon.
A statement from Bupa said the company is “shocked and saddened by what has occurred at our Seaforth care home.”
“Bupa takes the safety and wellbeing of its residents seriously,” the statement said.
“The employee in question has been dismissed, and we are cooperating fully with NSW Police.”
The company said it is “committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for our residents” and is focusing on “supporting Bupa Seaforth residents, their families and staff.”
— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) September 5, 2018
Elder abuse can take a number of forms, including physical, psychological, emotional, or financial, said Superintendent David Darcy from Northern Beaches Police.
“These vulnerable people need the community’s help to be their voice. To see an elderly man treated in this way is disgraceful,” he said.
The man was granted bail, and will appear at Manly Local Court on 11 September 2018.
It is estimated that between 2 per cent and 10 per cent of older Australians experience elder abuse every year – and with Australia’s ageing population, the number of cases is only likely to grow.
However, it’s difficult to know what the true numbers for elder abuse are, because experts say that victims may be reluctant to come forward – due to shame, fear of consequences, or worry that they may not be believed.
Instances of abuse are, appallingly, happening in aged care facilities, and if cameras can help to protect residents, should it be mandatory to instal them?
Video footage can not only help to give vulnerable people or their loved ones the confidence to come forward with a complaint, but it can also provide evidence that could be used to help prove abuse. Abuse can otherwise be difficult to prove.
In recent years, a number of cases, such as the one we are reporting above, have come to light only because video footage has been available.
We recently reported on the case of an aged care worker being sentenced to 17 months’ detention after secretly being filmed abusing an aged care resident. In another case, a hidden camera in an Adelaide nursing home captured footage of a staff member appearing to attempt to suffocate an 89-year-old man.
Earlier this year, an inquiry into elder abuse in Australia heard that cameras “should be allowed” in aged care facilities to keep personal carers and aged care staff accountable for their actions.
But it is a complex issues, that must be considered talking into account cost, privacy, and the alternative of employing more staff.
Of course, the very large majority of aged care staff provide good care of elderly residents, and are well trained, experienced, and genuinely caring. But any case of elder abuse does not meet the standard our society expects, and we should be doing all we can to prevent it.
If aged care staff knew that every move was being watched, would it put a stop to assaults in aged care?