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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.

Read: Care workers to be sentenced after abusing patients

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.

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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

Read: Norman Lamb: Care failings are entirely unacceptable

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

Read: Care home dehydration neglect: Some of the victims

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.

Read: Over 1,000 care home 'dehydration deaths'

Norman Lamb: Care failings are entirely unacceptable

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said care failings that contribute to people being malnourished or dehydrated are "entirely unacceptable".

Read: Over 1,000 care home 'dehydration deaths'

The law requires that care homes must ensure residents receive enough to eat and drink and we expect the Care Quality Commission to take swift action when this is not the case.

We want everyone to get better care, which is why the CQC are bringing in new rules so that it can crack down on poor care more effectively and why we're taking action so that company directors will be personally responsible for the quality of care their organisation provides.

– Care and support minister Norman Lamb

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Charity wants improved care home staff training

A charity has warned that an improvement in training for care home staff was necessary to look after patients.

The warning comes after figures published in The Daily Telegraph showed that over 1,000 care home residents had died of thirst or while suffering from severe dehydration in the past decade.

It makes you sick to the stomach that you are handing your loved ones over with even the remotest possibility they could starve to death or die of thirst.

There is a real need for better training for those who are looking after elderly and vulnerable people. But even more important is allowing people the time to really care for someone.

– Dr Alison Cook, director of external affairs at the Alzheimer's Society

Over 1,000 care home 'dehydration deaths'

Over the past decade more than 1,000 care home residents in England and Wales died of thirst or while suffering from severe dehydration, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The figures were obtained under the freedom of information act. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Some 1,158 care home residents suffered dehydration-related deaths from 2003 to 2012, figures obtained by the newspaper showed.

Dehydration was noted on death certificates as either the main cause of death or a contributory factor, according to the newspaper.

Some 318 care home residents died from starvation or when severely malnourished over the same period, and 2,815 deaths were related to bed sores.

The figures showed that more people died while dehydrated last year than when the coalition came to power in 2010, but the number was lower than the 2006 peak.

Measures to restore confidence after care scandals

Today's measures are a response to several recent scandals in both care homes and hospitals.

They include the case of Winterbourne View care home in Bristol where patients with learning difficulties were abused and neglected by staff.

Footage captured by an undercover BBC reporter showing patients being slapped, dragged on the floor and doused in cold water eventually led to 11 staff pleading guilty to 38 charges.

Read: Winterbourne View report highly critical of agencies

The Francis Report consluded that patients were routinely neglected at Stafford Hospital
The Francis Report consluded that patients were routinely neglected at Stafford Hospital Credit: PA

Stafford Hospital was also the subject of a damning report by Robert Francis QC which concluded that patients were routinely neglected by staff.

It detailed how patients were left unfed and unwashed, some of them in soiled sheets.

Read: Stafford Hospital report calls for 'zero tolerance' approach to poor care

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