At least 5 suspicious deaths reported in Hong Kong scandal-hit nursing home for mentally disabled

Amid public outcry, government may also revoke centre’s temporary operating licence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 October, 2016, 4:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 2:32am

There have been at least five suspicious deaths at a scandal-stricken nursing home for the mentally disabled that is set to have its temporary operating licence revoked by the government, it was revealed yesterday.

The shocking news about the Bridge of Rehabilitation Company has intensified public outrage after its former director, Cheung Kin-wah, was recently found to have escaped legal consequences for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman under his care because she was declared unfit to testify.

It also came as the Social Welfare Department said it was planning to revoke the centre’s temporary licence for failing to comply with care and management standards – although it was blasted by critics as “too little, too late”.

Hong Kong minister pledges stronger rules after assault claims against former nursing home head

The private care centre in Kwai Chung, which apologised yesterday and said it would not appeal against the government’s move, first raised public suspicions when a 14-year-old boy jumped to his death in August.

Labour Party lawmaker Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, who has been monitoring the centre for months, told the Post yesterday at least five suspicious deaths were recorded in the past year at the home, some of them with having choked on food.

“There is constantly insufficient manpower at the centre,” he said. “It also has a severe hygiene issue, with rats biting residents, alongside poor air-conditioning and lighting.”

The Social Welfare Department confirmed it had received five reports of deaths by the home in the past two years and alerted police. Investigators had found no criminal evidence in four cases and were still investigating the fifth involving the 14-year-old boy, a spokeswoman said.

Tighten supervision of those who care for the mentally ill

It would take two to three weeks to officially revoke the centre’s licence, she added.

Director of Social Welfare Carol Yip Man-kuen said some of the deaths were due to natural causes but gave no details.

She said the government was taking action against the centre over its failure to follow the department’s directions, rather than the sexual assault allegations.

“It is natural for people to grow old and die,” said a staff member at the centre who did not give her name, insisting that they had met the standards required of them.