24 people with dementia have died in a retirement home in a year: National Ombudsman

Diyana Kovacheva

The Bulgarian National Ombudsman Diana Kovacheva announced that 24 elderly people with dementia have died in a single year in a retirement home in Gorsko Kosovo. This prompted her to inform the Prosecutor General to look into the case, as the number is alarmingly high. Kovacheva informed about a recent external evaluation of the retirement home, which had found bad living conditions and overpopulation. The ombudsman wrote an official request to Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev to order an investigation into the home. The local Prosecutor’s Office has begun an inquiry, bTV reported.

The most recent recommendations from the National Ombudsman’s office for improvements in the home in Gorsko Kosovo date back from 2013 but none of them have been met, the ombudsman wrote in her request to the Prosecutor General. The findings from the current evaluation do not differ much from the ones made in 2013, she noted.

"Currently 57 people live in the home, whose capacity is 60. Most of them are bedridden or immobile," Kovacheva said and added that her institution has found "a patient who was recently placed in the home and whose bed sores had been treated for four days because there was no nurse in the home."

The residents are subject to humiliating treatment, the ombudsman says. The administrative section of the building and the residents’ rooms are divided with bars, the door leading to the yard outside stays locked and residents may not leave without a member of the staff. The residents’ ward has two toilets and a single shower room for all nearly 60 residents. Most of the bells, mounted next to the beds, which are used to call a nurse do not work at all.

Kovacheva has also informed the local authorities and the Ministry of Social Policy about the conditions in the home. She is adamant the way the residents are treated in the retirement home is a violation of the United Nations Convention against Torture.

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