| 03.01,19. 04:52 PM |
NSW aged care worker charged over alleged assaults of five elderly residents
Photo: A 48-year-old Windang woman will appear at Port Kembla Local Court to face the assault charges. (ABC Illawarra: Ainslie Drewitt-Smith
Police have described alleged attacks on five elderly residents by a staff member of a New South Wales south coast aged care centre as "horrendous and unfathomable".
Charges have been laid against a 48-year-old woman who worked at the Warrigal Community Village in Warilla, south of Wollongong.
The woman is facing five counts of assault.
Detective Chief Inspector Glen Broadhead said all the victims were highly vulnerable people with dementia.
"They all involve incidents such as striking of the victims and one incident of spraying the victim," Inspector Broadhead said.
"It's horrendous for an elderly victim to be assaulted in a facility where they believe they are going to be cared for.
"It is just unfathomable for the community of today."
Acting CEO of the Village, Craig Smith, said none of the residents were seriously hurt.
"None required medical treatment, it was just excessive force by the staff member in caring for them," Mr Smith said.
"So there wasn't any long-term injuries, it was just more immediately consoling the residents involved.
"It's a distressing thing for any staff or residents to be involved in abuse."
Alleged attacks were reported by staff, police say
Inspector Broadhead said staff members reported the allegations to the Village managers in December.
The worker was then suspended and police were contacted.
The Windang woman was arrested at a home in Mount Warrigal yesterday morning and granted conditional bail to appear in Port Kembla Local Court next month.
Inspector Broadhead said the alleged victims' family members were distraught.
"It is very important we look after our vulnerable members of the community, whether they be aged or people that are disabled," he said.
"If we condone what has occurred and we don't report what has occurred, that is a problem for us as a community.
"We need to ensure they feel safe."
Internal investigation ongoing
Mr Smith said staff at the centre went through a rigorous training process in terms of identifying excessive force.
"All our staff are subject to criminal history checks, and our staff undertake a 12-monthly elder protection training [program] to make sure they are aware of what is required in terms of the [law]."
Mr Smith says the Village is conducting an internal investigation which will allow the suspended staff member a chance to respond to the allegations.