The son of one of the victims of the carers who have been convicted of abusing their patients has today spoken of his agony and guilt.
Chris Haywood, a married father-of-two from Lancaster, chose Hillcroft Nursing Home at Slyne in October 2010, for his father Ken after being impressed by staff and its specialist Coniston Unit.
But it was there that his dad and seven other dementia sufferers were physically abused by carers who, a trial at Preston Crown Court heard, “mocked, bullied and assaulted” them for laughs when they were “bored”.
Mr Haywood, 37, a customer advisor in Carnforth, said: “Your worst nightmare is basically what’s happened. These are people I shared a cup of tea with while discussing my dad’s care.”
Katie Cairns, 27, one of three care workers convicted last week, stamped on Mr Haywood’s foot so hard it broke his toe nail. The injury was found by his wife Mara Haywood, 62, on one of her daily visits.
Mrs Haywood, of Lancaster, who was married to her husband for 40 years, also found injuries on his hands and head.
Mr Haywood added: “When you ask how they came about, you would get ‘oh, he fell over, he was unsteady’ or ‘he banged his head on the radiator’.”
He placed his father in care fearing he would be abused on the streets after he roamed late at night dazed and confused as his condition worsened.
He said: “It’s very upsetting, it’s inexcusable. I felt particularly guilty about it because I was the one who made the call to put dad in care because he was becoming a danger to himself.”
Mr Haywood relived the moment plain-clothed police turned up at work in May 2012 to tell him his father, who had died that January aged 72, might have been the victim of abuse.
Anonymous emails had also been sent to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) by a whistleblower.
The trial heard receptionist Nichola Pallister and cleaner Lisa Bateman both reported Carol Ann Moore, the unit’s team leader, for hitting a resident and raised other concerns.
Mr Haywood said he was “gobsmacked, angry and felt let down” when he learned of the arrests.
He added: “Mum and Iused to take dad for a walk around the neighbouring housing estate and when we got back to Hillcroft, he didn’t want to go back in. Whistleblowing has to be made acceptable. It was all covered up at Hillcroft.”
Cairns, of Riverview Court, Morecambe was also found guilty of throwing bean bags at residents and a third count of ill treatment. Moore, 54, of Ripon Avenue, Lancaster, denied slapping a resident in the face after his wife complained about a lack of activities at the home but was found guilty of the charge.
Gemma Pearson, 28, of Hill Street, Carnforth, was found guilty of tipping a man out of his chair.
A fourth carer, Darren Smith, 35, of Howgill Avenue, Lancaster, previously admitted abusing eight residents. The charges related from May 2010 to September 2011.
All four were convicted of the ill-treatment and wilful neglect of a person with lack of capacity under the Mental Capacity Act. They will be sentenced on January 10 at Preston and face jail terms of up to five years.