'Unfathomable': Carer Allegedly Assaulted Five Elderly Residents With Dementia
A carer at an aged care facility has been charged over a series of "unfathomable" attacks on residents with dementia.
The 48-year-old woman allegedly assaulted five residents -- three women and two men -- aged between 74 and 87, all of whom have dementia.
The incidents are alleged to have occurred at a Warrigal facility in Warilla, in the NSW Illawarra region, between October and December last year.
Police Detective Chief Inspector Glen Broadhead described the alleged attacks as "quite serious", noting they involved the woman striking and, in one case, spraying the victims.
"It's horrendous," he told reporters on Thursday.
"For an elderly victim to be assaulted in a facility where they believe they are going to be cared for ... it’s just unfathomable."
Broadhead said the victims' family members were understandably distraught.
"We need to look after our vulnerable people; we need to ensure they feel safe."
Local police were first alerted after another staff member notified the facility's management.
On Monday, Warrigal's acting CEO Craig Smith told 10 News First he was made aware of an original incident on Christmas Eve.
"The allegation being made by another staff member [was] that a staff member they work with at one of our care homes used unnecessary force against another resident," he said.
"The decision was made to suspend the staff member immediately pending a full investigation."
A subsequent police investigation saw a 48-year-old woman arrested on Wednesday and charged with five counts of assault.
"It's distressing," Smith said.
"We’re sorry at this time of year that families have to go through that, so we are very upset about that.
"Our primary responsibility is the care of our residents which is why it’s important to act swiftly."
The allegations come ahead of a royal commission into the aged care sector that stemmed from appalling cases of abuse of elderly people.
"I think it's very important that we look after our vulnerable members of the community -- whether they are aged or disabled," Broadhead said.
"If we condone what has occurred and don't report what has occurred, that's certainly an issue for the community."
Detectives have not ruled out laying further charges against the woman amid an ongoing investigation.
Broadhead said detailed testimonies from relatives and other employees at the facility were important "to make up for any shortcomings that we had with the conditions the patients suffer".
The woman was granted conditional bail to appear in court on February 27.
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