Nursing Home Care Staff Sentenced For Horrific Elderly Abuse

Four Staff from Hillcroft Nursing Home in North Lancashire were sentenced for the bullying and tormenting of residents in their care over a sustained period in 2010 and 2011.

Darren Smith, 35, from Lancaster, was jailed for eight months at Preston Crown Court.Katie Cairns, 27, was jailed for five months, Carol Moore, 54, was sentenced to four months and Gemma Pearson, 28, was given a 12-month community order.

The abuse took place from May 2010 to September 2011 at Hillcroft nursing home in Slyne-with-Hest near Lancaster.

They charges related to ill-treatment and wilful neglect of a person with lack of capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The residents who suffered would have had no memory of the abuse so the chances of the staff being caught for their actions was limited and it appeared that it was this aspect of the care home that was exploited by the convicted care staff

The abuse perpetrated  by  the care staff covered a wide range of types of abuses- from being pelted with bean bags to being tipped out of a wheelchair. The victims were residents in their seventies and eighties.

Relatives expressed concern after the hearing at not having been able to protect their loved ones. The Lancashire County Spokesperson said the Nursing home management had failed in their duty to prevent nursing home abuse.

 The Judge in the case blamed the management of the nursing home for allowing a culture to develop in staff which allowed and condoned such behaviour and for not supporting staff who were too afraid to blow the whistle on what they saw

An internal investigation was carried out when complaints were made about the staff but the matter was not reported to Police or Social services.

The Care Quality Commission contacted Lancashire Council Safeguarding unit but no further action was taken by them.

Lancashire County Council sought to reassure the public that nursing home abuse problems were now resolved at Hillcrest. They described the conduct of the guilty staff as an aberration and not in any way representative of the other staff at Hillcrest- though a full review of Nursing home staff and procedures was being carried out.

The Council admitted however that it was at fault in failing to notify the police quickly enough when the abuses came to light.

As a result of the Care Quality Commission’s review of the way this case occurred it was also announcing major changes to the way care homes are inspected.

 The Care Quality Commission expressed thanks to the families of all who were abused for assisting them in this process