Three staff at Hillcroft care home in Lancashire 'mocked, bullied and assaulted' dementia sufferers

Residents ‘tormented by carers to relieve boredom’

Dementia sufferers in a private care home were “pelted with bean bags” and tormented by their carers, with one victim having their foot stamped on and another being tipped out of a wheelchair, a court heard.

Dementia sufferers in a private care home were “pelted with bean bags” and tormented by their carers, with one victim having their foot stamped on and another being tipped out of a wheelchair, a court heard.

Three carers at the private Hillcroft elderly care home at Slyne-with-Hest, near Lancaster, are alleged to have “mocked, bullied and assaulted” eight victims in a series of charges that span from May 2010 to September 2011.

Carol Ann Moore, 54, Katie Cairns, 27, and Gemma Pearson, 28, are on trial accused of ill treatment and neglect under the Mental Capacity Act. A fourth member of the team, Darren Smith, 35, has pleaded guilty to ill-treating eight patients.

Moore, the team leader from Lancaster, faces six charges; Cairns, from Morecambe, four counts; and Pearson, from Carnforth, a single count.

The trio worked on the day shift on the Coniston Unit at the home, which housed residents who were diagnosed with dementia and displayed “challenging behaviour”. Preston Crown Court heard how the trio “mocked them”.

Opening the case against the three defendants, prosecuting barrister Kathryn Johnson told the court that the three women had little care for their victims, who all suffered from dementia.

“They mocked them, bullied them and on occasions deliberately assaulted them,” she told the jury.

Bean bags should have been used as part of recreational therapy but were thrown so hard and fast that residents were unable to catch them, she alleged. “This caused frustration and anger in the residents, whereas the defendants would laugh,” she said.

Smith and Moore who are alleged to have been “bored” would say “they were doing it for their entertainment” and if residents objected they “would be subjected to it all the more”, said Ms Johnson, adding: “When the residents reacted, the staff would laugh.”

Pearson was seen to tip a resident out of his wheelchair when he failed to stand up, and Lisa Bateman, a cleaner at the home, “felt the staff were cruel and was surprised that they did not attempt to hide what they were doing”, Ms Johnson said.

The “last straw” for her came when one resident’s wife complained about the lack of activities at the home for her husband and others. “She heard Carol Moore say she would get her own back and she walked up to the husband and slapped him across the face,” Ms Johnson said.

Cairns, it was alleged, would pick on one man in particular, pulling loose skin on his neck and laughing, calling it his “mangina”. The resident would become “distressed” but Cairns would laugh, it is claimed.

The same victim had bruises around his nipples as if they had been twisted, and Cairns was seen to flick and comment on them, the jury heard.

In one instance Ms Bateman said she saw Smith and a second member of staff, named in court as Sean Long, in bed with a male resident and demanded to know what was going on; Smith jumped out of bed and shut the door.

“They then left his room and the resident clung to the door frame whilst they tried to pull him into the corridor,” the court heard.

The trio had previously been suspended from the home following abuse allegations made by a receptionist and a cleaner in September 2011, the court heard.

But they returned to work after being handed warnings following an internal investigation and the matter was not referred to the police or social services.

The defendants were arrested after police began an investigation following a probe into complaints by the Care Quality Commission. All three deny all charges.

The trial continues.

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