BEIJING • A Chinese caregiver has confessed in court to killing her elderly patient in order to receive her salary early, and claims to have killed seven others, reports said yesterday.
The incidents highlight weaknesses in the elderly care system in the country.
He Tiandai, 45, went on trial last week in the southern city of Guangzhou for the murder of a woman in her 70s.
According to local media reports, the victim's daughter-in-law had promised the accused a full month's wage in the event of her patient's death, regardless of how many days she had worked.
After only four days of looking after the patient, He allegedly fed the elderly woman broth spiked with sleeping pills and toxic chemicals, injected the potion into her belly and buttocks and finally garrotted her with a nylon rope, the Guangzhou Daily said.
FOR THE MONEY
I didn't want someone else to get the money.
HE TIANDAI, who is on trial in Guangzhou for the murder of a woman in her 70s. She also confessed to murdering seven others.
"I didn't want someone else to get the money," she told the court, the paper reported.
During a police interrogation, the accused confessed to murdering another seven patients and attempting to kill two more by poisoning, the article said, adding that prosecutors did not press charges over these cases due to a lack of evidence.
"Her crimes have nothing to do with us. She has to shoulder the responsibility," said Mr He Yongping, the caregiver's elder brother. "The whole family is very sad. What can I say? There's nothing else to say."
Mr He said his sister was not on good terms with the family and they had long lost touch with her.
Mr Zhang Yiri, an associate professor of law at Guangzhou City Polytechnic, said the case indicates a lack of government supervision and management of agencies handling caregivers.
"Many agencies hire them without any background checks. All they ask for is an identity card before they recommend them to local households," Prof Zhang said.
Lawyer Ma Xiaoyan at the Guangdong Code Law Firm said companies recruiting caregivers should check the backgrounds of potential hires and their employment records.
There are deep demographic challenges in China, where holes in the social safety net have left many of the country's aged, and their children, desperate for assistance.
China now has more than 212 million people over age 60, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
"An increasing number of them will need the care of others in the near future," the China Daily said in an editorial about the murder case yesterday. While children "can put safety measures in place against those with bad or evil intentions... it should be possible for such care providers to be registered and vetted", it added.
The worries were reflected on social media.
"This is hard to bear," said one commentator. "The living environment of the elderly is bleak."