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Friday, October 21, 2016, 01:29

Govt to revoke temporary operating certificate of care home

By Dara Wang

HONG KONG - The government announced on Thursday that it is considering revoking the temporary operating certificate of a disgraced care home in Kwai Chung where a mentally disabled woman claimed she was sexually assaulted two years ago.

The government’s decision came after a charge against Cheung Kin-wa, a former director of Bridge of Rehabilitation Co, who allegedly sexually assaulted a then 21-year-old woman under his care in August 2014. The case was dropped in May as the alleged victim was medically unfit to testify.

The victim is said to have a mental age of an 8-year-old and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since the alleged assault.

Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi said it was “the luck of the defendant but a misfortune to the victim or society” that the charge had to be dropped. This was despite evidence of tissue papers that contained his semen and a mixture of bodily fluids from him and the victim.

The case had not drawn attention until the court turned down Cheung’s application for claiming legal costs against the prosecution on Oct 14. This sparked an outcry in the city among social workers and concern groups demanding better government supervision of nursing homes and legal protection for the mentally disabled.

The Social Welfare Department (SWD) has also come under fire for issuing another certificate for temporary operation for 18 months to the home in question in October 2015, after the alleged sexual assault case was revealed.

Director of Social Welfare Carol Yip Man-kuen said they had already notified the care home of its plan to revoke its temporary operating license earlier on Thursday.

Care homes that had operated before the Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Ordinance came into effect in 2011 can still apply for Certificate of Exemption to continue the service even if they cannot fully comply with the licensing requirement, Yip said. The care center in Kwai Chung is among those certificate holders.

Yip said the plan to revoke the certificate of the home in question is unrelated to the case of Cheung who was no longer involved in the operation and management of the home after being prosecuted two years ago.

The department said that the home did not meet the requirements stipulated in the directions issued on Aug 31 and Sept 9 and still violated the code of practice without any improvement of the service afterwards.

Further action against the home may be taken after legal consultation, Yip noted.

The department has set up a help desk at the care home to assist its 79 residents until Sunday. All residents will be properly re-housed, Yip stressed.

Bridge of Rehabilitation said in a statement on Thursday night that it accepted the SWD’s decision and will not appeal. It also apologizes for recent cases that happened at the care home, and promised it will facilitate its resident to be re-housed.

The government will seek legal advice over whether it can compel nursing home owners and licensees to declare their criminal records, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said earlier this week.

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