A rest home worker who shared "disgusting" photos of dementia patients on social media has apologised for his "silly mistake".
The 21-year-old healthcare assistant has come under fire for taking selfies with two residents at the Awanui Rest Home in Auckland, and sharing them with friends on Snapchat.
The photos included captions such as "sugar mummy", and "me and my sugar daddy today". Another photo shows the woman from the first picture lying on a mattress, with the caption "I'm straight up not having a good time."
The employee told the Herald he did not add the captions himself, his friends did. But he said he thought they were funny and shared them further with other close friends.
In the first two photos he is either not wearing a mask, or has the mask pulled down. His mouth is also open.
Social media users have been quick to condemn the man's actions, saying his behaviour was "disgusting".
Another person said the man was "clearly breaching their privacy for his own entertainment".
Awanui Rest Home provides dementia care services.
The employee said he asked for the elderly man's consent before taking the picture, but in hindsight agreed he "made a mistake by taking these pictures in the first place."
"At that time I did it with no intention of harm or anything in that matter."
He now recognised the photos were "disrespectful".
"At the time I took the pictures I didn't mean no harm, I sent them ... to my Snapchat friends and from there it was exploited."
"I take full responsibility of my actions and would like to sincerely apologise to anyone I have offended and hope they will all see this as a silly mistake."
He was not wearing his mask correctly because he found it uncomfortable.
"It gets humid and starts hurting my ears so I lower it onto my chin, and the other [photo] was towards the end of my shift where I simply discarded the mask."
He hoped people understood that "everyone makes mistakes".
"If I knew it would have turned out like this I would not have done it in the first place."
Manager Sharyn Gray was not willing to comment on the staff member's behaviour, but confirmed an investigation had been launched and that there was a timeline for when that would conclude. She would not say when that was.
She found out about the photos yesterday.
"We have done what we can do at this point until investigations are complete."
A woman who received the photos over Snapchat and shared them to Facebook in a bid to make his management team aware of his behaviour said she did not know the man, but was friends with him on Snapchat.
"I just wanted people to be aware of what was happening behind closed doors to those poor people in his hands," she told the Herald.
"I thought if I shared it his management team would be more aware of the person he was and let him go."
At the time she didn't realise the photos were tagged with the name of the rest home.
In the woman's Facebook post, she said she thought he was trying to be a "funny guy", but the behaviour was "not okay".
"He may not be able to comply with the two-metre distancing rule as he has to assist them, but as you can see he is wearing no mask in the pics around them," she wrote.
"This is somebody's loved ones this is happening to, and I hope their families see this and can use this to get justice.
"Nobody deserves this kind of treatment."
Age Concern New Zealand chief executive, Stephanie Clare said the worker's behaviour was "horrific".
"Older people should be treated with respect and dignity and this behaviour clearly does not represent those values or human rights," she said.
Elder abuse can be defined as "a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person".