Just over 100 people gathered this Thursday evening in the public garden of Valpaços, in a vigil against abuse of elderly people living in nursing homes.
The meeting was organized by Jorge Araújo, the nurse who recently denounced the existence of mistreatment at Lar de São José, in that city, after having viewed video images recorded in the room that his parents occupied. According to him, they prove the treatment he considers to be “inhuman” and, therefore, he advanced with a “complaint in court” against Santa Casa Misericórdia de Valpaços, which manages the home.
Jorge’s father, António Araújo, died, aged 93, in mid-January. To clarify the causes of death, the son demanded an autopsy to be performed and is still waiting for the results. The 92-year-old mother was removed from the institution and placed in a foster family.
Following the controversy, Santa Casa da Misericórdia temporarily suspended nine employees from that home, until the internal investigation is completed. He also filed a complaint against uncertainties at the Public Prosecutor’s Office and was required to take the necessary steps to identify, in the “filming held by António Araújo’s family members, the people [suspeitas de maus tratos no lar] to be able to act disciplinarily and criminally “against them.
Participants in tonight’s vigil kept a minute’s silence for the victims of abuse in their homes and watched some videos with testimonies from associative leaders and personalities who stressed the need to fight against this problem.
“Today for them, tomorrow for us”. That was how Mónica Lopes, one of the participants, justified her presence at the vigil. “If there is one thing I respect, it is the elderly and at the end of our lives we must always have some dignity. Respect above all.”
For his part, Sebastião Neves regretted that there were no more people on the watch, “at least two or three thousand”. In his opinion, “people need to wake up, because what happened to Mr. António [pai de Jorge Araújo] it has happened to many more people and they were silent “.
Maria Antónia Carvalho, residing in Mirandela, went to Valpaços on purpose to participate in the vigil, for being “solidary” with this type of initiatives, since “alerting to the need to have more conditions to treat the elderly”. The people selected for those functions, he stressed, “should be evaluated and have adequate training, since not everyone is dedicated to treating the elderly”.
The vigil took place simultaneously with the start of a meeting of the general assembly of Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Valpaços, scheduled with the aim of providing clarification on the case denounced by Jorge Araújo.