Care home worker jailed for force-feeding and mistreating vulnerable elderly residents

Carla Dawn Graham Credit: Court reporter

A senior care home worker who was angry, aggressive and violent to three vulnerable elderly residents — force-feeding one and slapping another in the face— has been jailed.

Colleagues of 60-year-old Carla Dawn Graham described her as a “frightening individual” who “bullied them” as they cared for scores of people at Heron Hill in Kendal.

But they turned whistleblowers, telling police of shocking abuse she doled out to three dementia sufferers during 2018.

Prosecutor Tim Evans told Carlisle Crown Court this morning how Graham was seen by one staff member to ram huge spoonfuls of hot food “fast and forcefully” into the mouth of one resident.

This caused her “face to go bright red and to have a look of startlement and distress”. Graham also wrapped the woman’s arms in a nightie to restrain her and was heard to say: “Shut up and open your mouth."

Graham repeatedly slapped the hands of a male resident aged in his 80s, and was violent to a second elderly woman who would lash out and spit because of her condition and required gentle care.

When that woman struck Graham, she responded with an open palm slap across the face, threatened to give what was seen as a cold punishment shower and spoke with a colleague witness in a bid to avoid any complaint.

“It’s positive mistreatment,” Mr Evans said of the offending.Graham denied the ill treatment or wilful neglect of the three people who lacked capacity, but was found guilty of three charges after a trial.

The court heard today Graham, of Vicars Fields, Kendal, had previous convictions for theft, fraud and burglary, and had served jail terms in the past but been out of trouble since 1988.

Claire Larton, defending, said Graham accepted the jury’s verdicts “although she maintains her innocence”. A married mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, she was described as the matriarch of her close knit South Cumbria family.

Jailing Graham for eight months, Judge Nicholas Barker described her three victims as “essentially helpless, extremely vulnerable, unable to do anything for themselves”.

“They were entirely in the hands of those who cared for them,” the judge told Graham — sacked after her crimes came to light. “In my judgement, you were ill-suited to this line of work.

You did not have the temperament; you did not have the patience.” Judge Barker added: “There is a breach of trust here. You breached it in an egregious way affecting the most vulnerable.”