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Victims pelted with bean bags 'for entertainment'

Hillcroft nursing home residents were mocked, bullied and tormented by four care workers because they would have no memory of the abuse.

A general view of Hillcroft Nursing home in Slyne-with-Hest, Lancaster. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Archive

One man had his foot stamped on deliberately, another was nearly tipped out of his wheelchair and the vulnerable victims were pelted with bean bags and balls at their heads "for entertainment."

In November, Carol Ann Moore, 54, Katie Cairns, 27, and Gemma Pearson, 28, were found guilty by a jury at Preston Crown Court of ill-treatment or neglect of a person who lacks capacity.

Darren Smith, 35, from Lancaster, admitted ahead of the trial eight counts of ill-treatment in which he threw bean bags or balls at eight residents of Hillcroft nursing home in Slyne-with-Hest, Lancaster.

All the offences spanned from May 2010 to September 2011 and related to seven men and one woman, all aged in their 70s or 80s - the eldest was aged 85.

Judge: Weak and inadequate management led to abuse

Four care workers took part in the "gratuitous sport" of abusing dementia sufferers which highlighted Hillcroft nursing home's "weak and inadequate management", the judge at Preston Crown Court said today.

Much evidence in the trial revealed that there was, at the relevant times, a lax regime with weak and inadequate management on the unit which allowed the kind of conduct to carry on undetected and without proper and adequate control.

– Judge Michael Byrne

He added that the offences committed were "an indictment" on Hillcroft nursing home management.

A lack of proper management allowed a culture to develop where conduct of this sort was allowed to carry on.

Some of the offences were gratuitous sport at the expense of of vulnerable victims. Each of these defendants broke the trust placed in them.

– Judge Michael Byrne

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Three of four care workers jailed for abuse

Four care workers who ill-treated elderly dementia sufferers at a nursing home in Lancashire have been sentenced to:

  • Darren Smith sentenced to eight months in prison for badly treating dementia sufferers.
  • Carol Ann Moore was jailed for four months.
  • Katie Cairns was sentenced to five months in prison.
  • Gemma Pearson was given a 12 month community order with supervision and told to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work.

Daughter 'heartbroken' by Hillcroft care home abuse

The daughter of one of the victims of ill-treatment at Hillcroft nursing home in Lancaster by four care workers has said she was "heartbroken" when she was informed of the abuse.

In an impact statement, ahead of their sentencing, she said: "To receive a letter and to be informed that your parent has possibly been physically abused in a place that is thought to be comfortable for them is heartbreaking."

She added that she wanted to know why the defendants had acted like they did and what they would think if their parents were treated in the same manner.

Carol Ann Moore, 54, Katie Cairns, 27, Gemma Pearson, 28, and Darren Smith, 35, will be sentenced today.

Family's guilt and anger after father's care home abuse

A relative of a dementia sufferer who was mistreated at a nursing home in Lancaster has spoken of his anger as four care workers are set to be sentenced today.

Michael Rowlinson said his family's decision to place his father, Norman, a retired chartered surveyor, into care was the "worst day of our lives".

Residents at Hillcroft nursing home were mocked, bullied and tormented by four care workers. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/

Reading an impact statement in court, he said: "We had feelings of guilt for not being able to look after him.

"Our feelings of guilt only worsened when we found out that Dad had been subjected to humiliation and ill-treatment by those who were trusted to care for him.

"We feel angry this could have been allowed to happen...the experience has broken down our trust."

Mr Rowlinson added he did not believe the Care and Quality Commission had held Hillcroft to account.

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Care workers to be sentenced after abusing patients

Four care workers who ill-treated elderly dementia sufferers at a nursing home in Lancashire will be sentenced today.

A general view of Hillcroft nursing home in Slyne-with-Hest, Lancaster. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Archive

Residents were bullied, mocked and tormented at Hillcroft nursing home because they would have no memory of the abuse, with one man having his foot stamped on deliberately and another tipped out of his wheelchair.

The victims were also pelted with bean bags at their heads "for entertainment", jurors at Preston Crown Court heard.

In November, Carol Ann Moore, 54, Katie Cairns, 27, and Gemma Pearson, 28, were found guilty by a jury of ill-treatment or neglect of a person who lacks capacity, under the Mental Capacity Act, after a four week trial.

Darren Smith, 35, from Lancaster, admitted eight counts of ill-treatment ahead of the trial.

Dehydration symptoms to be aware of in elderly people

Over the past 10 years, 1,158 care home residents died of thirst or while suffering from severe dehydration - an average of almost 10 people a month - according to a report by The Daily Telegraph.

Here are some symptoms of severe dehydration, according to the NHS:

  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Low level of consciousness
  • Dry mouth, eyes that don't produce tears
  • Not passing urine for eight hours
  • Dry skin that sags slowly into position when pinched up
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Blood in stools/vomit
  • Low blood pressure
  • Sunken eyes
  • Weak pulse
  • Cool hands and feet
  • Seizures

Elder abuse charity: Quality and safety's an afterthought

Action on Elder Abuse told ITV News that today's report findings are a "major scandal" and said that "all levels" must bear some responsibility for failings in elder care.

It is appalling that frail vulnerable people can die from a lack of basic sustenance in the heart of care provision.

This is a major scandal that should never have occurred, and all levels must bear some responsibility, including care providers, regulators and the Government. The quality and safety of care of our older people has been an afterthought for too long.

What we need is a Cabinet-led strategy that makes this a major priority for change. We cannot go on like this.

– Gary FitzGerald Chief Executive, Action on Elder Abuse

Care home dehydration neglect: Some of the victims

As a report reveals more than 1,000 British care home residents over the past decade died of thirst or while suffering from severe dehydration, we look at some recent cases.

  • Norma Spear, 71, died in September 2010 after losing 35lbs in five weeks in Druids Meadow care home, Birmingham. An inquest found dehydration played a part in her death.
  • Josephine Cunningham, 86, won compensation from Care UK in 2011 after being left badly dehydrated at Appleby House, Epsom.
  • Gloria Foster, 81, died in February 2013 after being left nine days without food, following the closure of her care provider Agency Carefirst24, which shut with no replacement, a report by Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board found.
  • Siegfried Jaeckel, 84, died on Christmas Day 2010 at St Andrew's Lodge care home, Nottingham, with the nature of his death prompting a council enquiry. Deputy Coroner for Nottingham Heidi Connor said the cause of death was pneumonia, but that dehydration had contributed to this.
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