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Police shut down illegal expat care home on Costa Blanca

The Civil Guard have arrested a British couple who ran an unregistered retirement home on the Costa Blanca, charging residents €3,000 per month and allegedly persuading them to hand over their assets.

Police shut down illegal expat care home on Costa Blanca
One of the bathrooms at the unlicenced residential home. Photo: Guardia Civil /

The husband and wife, who have not been named but are both said to be 59, and their 25-year-old daughter, are being investigated for fraud, operating without a licence and engaging in criminal activity.

They allegedly ran a residential care home for the elderly in their own home in Santa Pola, a resort on the Alicante coast that is very popular with expats.

The family “targeted elderly British expats who were resident in the town, had no family nearby and who spoke only English,” according to a statement from the Guardia Civil in Alicante.

The daughter worked in a pharmacy in the town where she identified potential victims, investigators said.

“She would show interest in them and establish an emotional tie with them. She would get information of how they lived, about their purchasing power,” the spokesman said.

“They were persuaded to move into the so-called care home where they paid a monthly fee of between €2,500 to €3,000 a month. Then the residents were told to hand over documentation and deeds to their properties with the intention of convincing them to sign them over to the suspects to inherit on their death.”

 


Photo: A bedroom at the unlicenced residential home. Photo: Guardia Civil

Investigators said there was no suggestion that the residents had been physically mistreated while at the home.

“If one of them received visitors, they were watched closely to ensure that they didn’t discover what was going on,” said the statement.

“Their control was so tight that mobile phones were confiscated and the residents were watched all the time with CCTV cameras.”

The alarm was raised after one resident managed to escape and inform relatives.

The five-bedroom care home had been running for at least five years, the Guardia Civil said.

“Those hired to care for the elderly at the home did not have the proper qualifications,” the statement explained. 

“The centre was not operating with a licence and therefore was not regulated by local authorities.”

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Spain’s prosecutors file criminal complaint over virus care home death

Spanish prosecutors said Tuesday they have filed a criminal complaint against a Madrid care home doctor and its director over the Covid-related death of a resident, in the first such case in the capital region since the start of the pandemic

Spain's prosecutors file criminal complaint over virus care home death
Photo: AFP

Madrid's public prosecutor's office said the two women are suspected of manslaughter and denial of medical attention in relation to the death in March of a woman in her 80s who had just moved into the home.   

Madrid was one of the hardest-hit cities in Europe by the first wave of the pandemic, and the complaint is expected to be one of several alleging inadequate care at retirement homes during the period.

In a statement, the prosecutor's office said the doctor and the director of the home, who were not named, did not follow the protocol set up by the Madrid regional government for caring for residents during the pandemic.

The doctor “disregarded” the protocol and did not call a hospital about the woman, despite her worsening condition, until eight days after she began having breathing trouble.

“Despite her rapid transfer to hospital, she died the following day from cardiac arrest,” the statement said.

The care home's director “was aware of the patient's clinical situation (but) did nothing” to ensure she received health care during periods when the doctor was absent, notably on the weekend before her death, it added.   

Amnesty International warned earlier this month that conditions at elderly care homes in the Madrid region and in Catalonia remained “alarming” despite improvements.

In a sharply worded report, it said the “vast majority” of residents had not been properly cared for during the pandemic.

The measures put in place by both regions were “inefficient and inadequate” and violated the residents' rights, it said.   

Spain has been one of Europe's worst-hit countries, with the virus infecting more than 1.7 million people and causing over 48,000 deaths.

Close to half of that number are believed to be elderly people who died in homes, Amnesty said.

At the height of the first wave in March, Spanish soldiers helping to fight the pandemic found elderly patients in retirement homes abandoned and, in some cases, dead in their beds.

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