The Social Welfare Department is closing down a care home for the disabled following a controversial unlawful sex case against its former superintendent and reports of suspicious deaths among residents of the center.
Director of Social Welfare Carol Yip Man-kuen stressed that the decision to stop the operation of Bridge of Rehabilitation has nothing to do with the reported sex scandal in the center, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Cheung Kin-wah, the center’s former director, had been accused of unlawful sex with a resident of the nursing home, but charges against him had been dropped on the grounds that his alleged victim is unfit to testify.
In a statement issued on Thursday night, the Bridge of Rehabilitation said it does not intend to lodge an appeal if its permit to operate is revoked by the government.
The care home does not have a license, but had been given a certificate of exemption, which expires on March 31 next year.
Yip said the home did not fully meet the requirements specified by the department, such as the code of practice on its management and operation, despite two orders issued by the SWD in August and September.
Meanwhile, Apple Daily reported at least eight cases of death among the residents of the center this year, or a tenth of all the residents in the care home.
The SWD said there were seven death cases among the center’s residents over the past two years, of which five were passed to the police for investigation.
Police found no criminal intent in four of the cases, while the fifth one, involving a 14-year-old boy who fell from height on Aug. 23, is still being investigated.
The mother of the boy, surnamed Leung, said it is obvious the center is understaffed and residents were ill-treated, Ming Pao Daily reported.
The closure of Bridge of Rehabilitation is the first to be ordered against a private care home provider for disabled persons since the Residential Care Homes (Persons With Disabilities) Ordinance went into effect in November 2011.
The 79 residents of the center would now need a new place to stay.
Although the SWD said there are enough vacancies in care homes in Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung, legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung noted that the department only serves as a middleman to provide a list of available centers while residents have to look for places themselves.
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