A care home nurse has been convicted after appalling footage emerged showing her spraying aerosol in a dementia patient’s face.
The video, which was recorded on a hidden camera by the patient’s family, shows Susan Draper spraying body spray in 78-year-old Betty Boylan’s face, before telling a colleague: “It’s better than poo.”
Draper, 43, was convicted of ill-treatment of an elderly woman at Birmingham Magistrates Court, where the jury heard how she had “dehumanised” Ms Boylan, a great grandmother. The care worker was handed a 12-month community order and a £270 fine, and has since been struck off from the Bupa-run Perry Locks Care Home, where she had worked for 17 years.
Ms Boylan’s family installed the hidden camera after their mother, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2012, was abused in a similar incident by Bina Begum, who was also dismissed from Perry Locks for ill-treatment. Begum reportedly lifted Ms Boylan by the head to dress her, before roughly dropping her back into a chair — causing bruising and trauma to the vulnerable elderly woman.
The fact that two separate instances of abuse have been allowed to take place at the Perry Locks Care Home, which is ranked as ‘requires improvement’ by the CQC, is wholly unacceptable. It’s troubling that the abuse suffered by Ms Boylan may have gone undetected had her family not used a secret camera, and raises questions about the safeguarding of other patients within the Birmingham care home — and within other care homes.
Should CCTV be Made Mandatory in Care Homes?
News of the abuse suffered by Ms Boylan comes amid reports that one-third of care homes in England is failing on safety, with drug errors and lack of staff leaving vulnerable elderly people at risk. Cuts to social care spending have left many services lacking the necessary resources to manage and maintain a high duty of care, meaning that more care and residential homes are falling below the standard expected.
Spending cuts aside, there remains no excuse or justification for neglect and abuse of elderly people. Through our work dealing with care home abuse claims, we encounter shocking cases of mistreatment which go beyond the poor care seen in homes struggling with spending cuts. But what can be done to prevent the kind of abuse suffered by Ms Boylan?
In 2016, we campaigned for CCTV to become mandatory in care homes. Round-the-clock monitoring would, in our view, prevent abuse like that seen in Perry Locks, and provide better safeguarding for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
While our petition didn’t lead to new legislation on monitoring, it did prompt an important debate around the use of CCTV in care homes. We still believe that CCTV could make a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable people living in social care, and stories like Ms Boylan’s highlight just what a difference appropriate monitoring can make.
For more information on our work supporting vulnerable elderly people, visit our care home abuse page.