More inspections at homes for elderly

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2008, 12:00am

The Social Welfare Department has hired more staff to step up inspections of care homes for the elderly after several private homes were found to have pocketed their residents' welfare bonuses.

Five more social workers and five more nurses had been added to the department's Licensing Office of Residential Care Homes for the Elderly in 2007-08 to help monitor homes for the elderly, said department director Stephen Fisher. He was speaking at a meeting of the Legislative Council's panel on welfare services yesterday.

With the extra manpower, the team had more than 50 people, a department spokeswoman said.

Mr Fisher also said a care home that had been found to have used extra welfare payments to pay residential fees without their clients' consent last year was suspected of pocketing its residents' bonuses again this year.

He said the case had been reported to the police this month but would not give further details. The department spokeswoman declined to name the care home and how many residents were involved.

On May 30 last year and June 16 this year, the government made an extra month's payment to recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance.

Last year the department received 11 complaints about elderly care homes using one-off, one-month welfare bonuses to pay fees without their clients' consent.

Four of the complaints were found to be valid and the homes returned bonuses to their residents after the department's intervention. None of the care home owners was prosecuted.