Solicitors representing the family of an Alzheimer’s sufferer who was filmed being threatened, intimidated and mocked by care home staff say they will ensure a ‘full and thorough investigation’ is held into how the abuse was allowed to happen.
Hudgell Solicitors, specialists in handling cases of care home neglect and abuse, are representing the family of 68-year-old Bridget McDonald in a civil claim, and say a serious questions remain unanswered following a police investigation, and the sacking of the staff involved at The Ridings care home in Birmingham.
Mrs McDonald, who suffers from Korsakoff’s syndrome, a form of Alzheimer’s that can cause short-term memory loss, disorientation and confusion, is seen being labelled a ‘tramp’ by carer Rachel Pritchard in footage secretly filmed by her three daughters, who suspected she was being abused at the home.
The footage, which was this week published on the websites of many national newspapers with the family’s agreement, also shows another carer, 25-year-old Adam Hunt, poking her, throwing bedding at her and shouting orders at her.
He can be heard threatening Mrs McDonald, telling her: ‘Next time I call you, don’t f****** ignore me.’ In another clip he rips off her bed linen and demands: ‘Get out of bed.’
Later on, he grabs Mrs McDonald and demands ‘what do you think this is?’ before throwing her bed sheets at her and exclaiming: ‘Now make your bed.’
The footage, which was caught in a camera concealed in a bedside clock, was passed to West Midlands Police and shown to the care home after Mrs McDonald’s daughters were shocked and angered by its ‘heart-breaking’ content.
Both employees were sacked from their position as care workers and Mr Hunt was also given a caution by police for common assault.
Now, Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, a specialist in cases involving the failures in the care of the elderly, says the matter must not be allowed to end there.
“The danger here is that as the police have done their investigation and the home has sacked the two members of staff, this despicable treatment of Mrs McDonald could soon be considered water under the bridge. That simply can’t be allowed to happen. People must be held accountable, and lessons must be learned,” said Mrs Rhodes-Kemp.
“It is all very well for the care home to say the two members of staff involved have been sacked, and that they are reviewing their safeguarding policies and procedures, but that is the bare minimum to be expected following incidents such as this.
“Serious questions now have to be asked as to how and why this treatment was ever allowed to happen.
“Mrs McDonald’s daughters were concerned enough about their mother’s nervous and distressed behaviour to secretly film in her room and gather this evidence of shocking treatment. Why then, did nobody senior at the home suspect something was happening? Surely their safeguarding procedures should have picked up on this change in a resident’s behaviour in some way.
“We will be conducting a thorough investigation to ask why this behaviour was not spotted, and what lessons can be learned in the future to ensure this sort of treatment is never allowed to happen to any resident at this care home again.”
The Disclosure Barring Service (DBS), a national body which prevents unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, has been notified of the incident, and Mrs Rhodes-Kemp says they must also quickly confirm the two employees involved will not be allowed to work in the care industry again.
“We are seeing far too many incidents such as these across the care industry, and we need to see quick action and transparency from the DBS now in preventing these two people from working in care again. Strong messages have to be sent out.”
Mrs McDonald’s daughter, Rachael, 37, of Castle Vale, said she and her two sisters Amy and Susan had become suspicious over their mother’s care due to her being very apologetic when spilling some milk, seeming distressed and nervous in the home.
“You can see the terror in my mother’s eyes when Mr Hunt comes into the room and threatens her,” she said.
‘The way they treat her is disgusting. There is no respect or dignity. It is no way to treat any person, let alone an Alzheimer’s sufferer you are supposed to be caring for.’
A spokesman for The Ridings care home, which is owned by Dukeries Heath Care and is in Farnborough Road, Castle Vale, says it is ‘currently reviewing all safeguarding procedures to ensure that they remain robust, and that all staff have clearance from the DBS before being employed.