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Kobe nursing home warned over reports staff took naked photos of elderly resident

The building housing Kishiro-so, a care facility designated a special nursing home for older people that is under fire over numerous allegations of inappropriate care, is seen in Nada Ward, Kobe, on Oct. 7, 2020. (Mainichi/Kimi Sorihashi)

KOBE -- Staff at a rest home in the west Japan city of Kobe under fire for inappropriate care are also reported to have taken and also shared photographs in 2014 of a naked female resident via the free messaging app Line.

    The actions of staff at Kishiro-so, a special nursing home for older people in the city's Nada Ward, were recognized by the Kobe Municipal Government as sexual abuse. Authorities are said to have ordered the social welfare corporation in charge of the facility's management, Rokkokakujuen, to improve its organizational structure.

    The information came to light in an interview that the Mainichi Shimbun held with a former head of the facility, aged 50. According to the former head and internal documents, between August and September 2014 there were two reported cases of two female employees tasked with care responsibilities at the home taking photographs with their smartphones of a female resident while she wore a diaper, and when the top half of her body was unclothed. They shared the pictures with each other on Line, which was exposed when they sent the images to other staff.

    The city government carried out an inspection after receiving reports of the behavior, and confirmed that sexual abuse had taken place. It issued an advisory to the social welfare corporation in charge, recommending that it establish a consultation system in which staff can remind each other of inappropriate behavior, among other provisions. When asked about the case, the city government said it could not comment on the existence of specific cases.

    In September 2020, a number of irregularities were uncovered at Kishiro-so, including unqualified staff members administering care for gastric fistula and sputum suction, and care plans not being completed. The city government is inspecting the facility's practices based on the Long-Term Care Insurance Act.

    The former head of the care home told the Mainichi Shimbun, "After the abuse case in 2014, we tried to put on more night-shift staff to watch over the facility, and we ended up with a chronic shortage of workers." In 2017, a conspicuous number of staff left following the appointment of the corporation's current director, and around the spring of 2019 the situation worsened due to factors including some 20 people resigning. The former manager also stepped down on Oct. 5, 2020, and reported having spent a year or so staying overnight at the facility.

    Additionally, a person connected to the parties reported that when the corporation submitted documentation to have its Hidamari-no-ie Kishiro facility that opened in May classified as a special nursing home for older people, its papers relating to work plans for employees included the names of individuals not expected to work at the facility.

    (Japanese original by Kimi Sorihashi, Kobe Bureau)

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