27 Jul 2009

Tougher penalty warranted, says Grey Power

5:55 pm on 27 July 2009

A former rest home worker who taped an elderly resident's mouth shut because she was too noisy should have received a harsher penalty, says Grey Power.

Mafoufoga Misiagi, 61, who worked at Belhaven rest home in Mt Eden, was sentenced in Auckland District Court on Monday to 75 hours' community work for the incident in June 2008.

Judge Alison Sinclair said the victim, a deaf mute, was vulnerable and trusting of her caregivers, and the fact the woman remained quiet when the tape was applied to her mouth did not mean she consented.

Judge Sinclair said this was an abuse of someone who trusted Misiagi to care for her, though she accepted that Misiagi was not motivated by any malice.

However, Grey Power spokesperson Roy Reid says the judge seems to have been too lenient, and that the message to care workers should be to show more patience and a more caring attitude to those in their care.

Age Concern says it hopes the case has taught people to stand up against elder abuse.

Auckland's elder abuse co-ordinator for Age Concern, Emsie Walters, says the case highlights that elder abuse exists and should not be ignored.

Belhaven rest home was closed by the Ministry of Health last year.