SEREMBAN: The state Welfare Department is probing allegations that some residents of a private old folks home here have been subjected to abuse after pictures of the purported acts went viral.
Yesterday, four ex-staff members came forward with more claims of abuse, including residents being forced to drink their own urine and given extra sleeping pills since the home opened three years ago – all of which have been denied by the owner, Azrin Shala.
They want the authorities to investigate if these abuses have contributed to the deaths of 16 residents, who had passed away since early 2018.
One former employee, who wished to be known as Dila, said she raised the matter with Azrin several times but claimed that he would “just laugh it off”.
“Whatever that has gone viral is true. I saw a supervisor, whom we all address as Ina, committing these cruel acts. The authorities must probe this because we do not want the remaining residents to suffer a similar fate,” she told the media here yesterday.
Dila, 24, said she started working at the home in March last year but stopped eight months later as she could no longer stomach the alleged abuses.
On Monday, a Facebook account holder alleged that residents were being mistreated and manhandled, not given their meals on time and even locked in their rooms for hours at times by a female supervisor.Several pictures of the allegedly abused residents were also put up.
Another former employee, who wished to be known as Fikri, claimed to have seen the same supervisor using a slipper to repeatedly slap a sickly patient.
“She would also use a broom to hit the patients. I was shocked by her inhumane behaviour and decided to stop work after Hari Raya,” said the 24-year-old who lasted seven months on the job.
Adding that the home was not equipped with CCTV, Fikri claimed that welfare officers had visited the home but there was no follow-up action.
Twenty-two-year-old Ain, who worked at the home for three years before quitting last July, said she saw the same supervisor forcing a sick patient to drink his own urine from a container.
“The woman even hit me when I threatened to report her. There was nothing much I could do earlier because I desperately needed the job,” she said, adding that employees were paid RM1,000 a month and given a two-day break after every four days of work.
Another former worker Faizal, 26, alleged that the supervisor would tie some aggressive patients to chairs.
“Some patients would tell their children of the alleged abuses but for some reason, they were not believed. Even those children who believe their parents have no choice but to leave them there because they cannot take care of them,” he said, adding that he quit on June 1 after working for seven months.
He also claimed that some patients would plead with him not to leave after his working hours as they felt safer when he was around, adding that the ex-staff had lodged police reports.
In a statement, the state Welfare Department said it was probing the Facebook claims, adding that a team was sent to the home at 10.30pm on Monday.
“We are treating the matter seriously. We will look into the allegations made by the individual,” it said.
Azrin said he had reason to believe that the viral allegations were the work of two former employees whom he had sacked.
“I gave my statement to the cops on Monday night. Welfare officers had also come over to conduct a check at the home,” he said, adding that he was leaving the matter to the police.
Police as well as officers from the Welfare and Health Departments also visited the home yesterday.
Asked why there was an image of an almost naked resident in one of the viral messages, Azrin said his employees were in the midst of changing him when the picture was taken.
About the 16 alleged deaths, Azrin said this was exaggerated, adding that the “number was not mentioned in the viral message” and that “most actually died of old age”.
He said operations at the home were running as usual despite the allegations, adding that anyone upset with him could always meet him.