A caregiver in a home for the elderly who forced a 65-year-old woman with dementia to eat her own faeces and slapped her was jailed for six months and ordered to pay HK$3,000 in compensation. The Social Welfare Department and organisations for elderly services welcomed the ruling, saying it would be a deterrent to abuse of the elderly. Chan Sau-kuen, 50, was convicted this month of four counts of common assault for abusing Pang Sin-mui from April last year to May this year at the Southern Centre for the Aged in Ku Tung. Chan, the head of elderly care at the centre, fed Pang faeces twice and slapped her twice, Fanling Court heard. In sentencing, Magistrate Symon Wong Yu-wing said the victim was badly ill and was vulnerable because she lacked the ability to take care of or express herself. As a caregiver for the victim, Chan's abuse involved destruction of trust. He described Chan's forcing Pang to eat her own faeces as 'extremely disgusting' and 'demeaning the esteem of the elderly', and said 'any person with a conscience would not do it'. Wong therefore decided to hand down a deterrent sentence. He had also said Chan would be 'punished by heaven'. Saying Chan was not remorseful, the magistrate gave her two months in prison for each of the two charges involving feeding of faeces and one month for the other offences. He ordered the sentences to be served separately, resulting in six months' imprisonment in total. Chan also has to pay HK$3,000 in compensation to the victim. Outside court, Chan's family said the sentence was too harsh. The court heard that Pang, who suffers from heart disease and dementia, soiled herself regularly. When Chan found her playing with her own excrement in April last year, Chan swore at her and placed her fouled hand in her mouth. In September the same year, when changing Pang's diaper, Chan took Pang's excrement-covered hand and placed it in her mouth again. Chan slapped Pang in the temple in March and slapped her face in May. The abuse came to light after a centre staff member called Pang's son and the son reported the case to police. The Social Welfare Department said it would not tolerate such abuse taking place at homes for the elderly and cases would be handled seriously. The department said it stepped up inspection and had visited the centre 10 times this year. It would enforce punishment on the centre such as reducing subsidies and the number of places the department bought if it was found to have violated service requirements under the Enhanced Bought Place Scheme. The department will send letters to all homes for the elderly asking them to investigate and handle abuse cases seriously. Southern Centre for the Aged said it would not let a similar incident happen again, and Chan's employment has been terminated. The department said it had received six complaints about abuse at homes for the elderly since January 2007. Grace Chan Man-yee, chief officer of elderly service of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, said it was problematic that the Social Welfare Department was both the licenser and monitoring body of homes for the elderly. She called for the department to introduce a third party to monitor such homes. Dominic Au Siu-lun, spokesman for Home of the Elderly Research Society for Elderly Service, advised occupants and their families to not flinch from reporting abuse over fears of staff retaliation.