Report finds elderly tied up, restrained in old age homes
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Report finds elderly tied up, restrained in old age homes

Health Ministry criticizes numerous facilities for lacking proper equipment, strapping down seniors in way that leads to injuries

Illustrative: An elderly man crosses the street in Tel Aviv, May 20, 2009. (Serge Attal/Flash90)
Illustrative: An elderly man crosses the street in Tel Aviv, May 20, 2009. (Serge Attal/Flash90)

More than 20 old age homes in the country were found to be routinely tying down residents in violation of established norms and procedures, according to a recent Heath Ministry study, Israel Radio reported Sunday.

The report said that in several facilities over half of the seniors were reported to be tied up, while in others there were incidents where they were strapped down in a way that led to injuries.

One old age home singled out for criticism in the report was Beit Reuven in Jerusalem, a facility for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Residents there were found to be strapped to chairs and beds for hours on end.

Beit Reuven said the practices were for the benefit of the patients, so they won’t fall or injure themselves or others, the radio reported.

But this has not allayed the concerns of family members.

One woman told Israel Radio that she was “shocked” during her visit to Beit Reuven to discover her mother tied down to her bed in such a way that she was unable to move and in pain.

“She could not move,” said the woman who spoke to the radio on condition of anonymity, saying she feared that complaining in public could affect the treatment her mother receives.

“She could breathe, I felt her breath, but nothing more,” she said, questioning why such practices were still used when other alternatives, such as sedatives, existed.

The woman said that due to a dearth of facilities in Jerusalem that treat seniors with Alzheimer’s, she has no choice but to leave her mother at Beit Reuven despite the treatment of its patients.

After a surprise visit to the facility, the Health Ministry ordered Beit Reuven to switch the equipment it uses and change its practices, while also summoning its management for a hearing on the practices, the report said.

In addition to Beit Reuven, dozens of facilities across Israel were criticized for similar practices, as well as for lacking proper equipment, such as wheelchairs and equipment to safely restrain residents when necessary in a way that does not lead to injuries.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article featured, as an illustrative image, a photograph of Beit Tovei Ha’ir, a senior citizen residence in Jerusalem. We would like to clarify that Beit Tovei Ha’ir has no connection to the content of the article, and apologize for any inconvenience caused.

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