Hillcroft nursing home staff trial: Cleaner 'witnessed abuse'

Hillcroft Nursing Home There are five privately-owned Hillcroft nursing homes in north Lancashire

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A cleaner has told the trial of three carers accused of abusing residential home dementia patients she witnessed several instances of ill-treatment.

Lisa Greenland said she saw a patient being slapped, a carer trying to tip a resident out of his chair and balls being thrown at residents' heads.

She said what she saw distressed her.

Three female staff members deny abusing eight people with advanced dementia at Hillcroft nursing home in Slyne-with-Hest near Lancaster from 2010 to 2011.

Preston Crown Court has heard that Katie Cairns, 26, of Riverview Court, Westgate, Morecambe, abused four residents - allegedly stamping on the foot of one and mocking others by throwing bean bags at them and touching them.

'In-fighting' and 'cliques'

Carol Moore, 53, of Ripon Avenue, Beaumont, Lancaster, is accused of abusing six residents - allegedly slapping one and throwing bean bags at others.

Gemma Pearson, 27, of Hill Street, Carnforth, is accused of tipping a resident out of his wheelchair.

Ms Greenland said she saw Ms Moore slap a resident and was "alarmed" when Ms Pearson tried to tip a resident out of his chair.

The cleaner also alleged that Ms Cairns deliberately trod on a resident's foot.

"I had to say something seeing so many people upset by people who were supposed to care for them," she said.

The jury was told by the defence there was "in-fighting" and that there were "cliques" at the care home.

Ms Greenland was asked why she had not reported the alleged abuse earlier.

In bed with resident

The alleged offences took place between May 2010 and September 2011.

A fourth carer has pleaded guilty to ill-treating residents.

Darren Smith, 34, of Howgill Avenue, Lancaster, who was seen in bed with a distressed resident, has admitted abusing eight people at the home.

All the defendants are charged under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 with ill-treatment and wilful neglect of a person with lack of capacity.

The staff 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 court heard in December 2011 the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was sent anonymous emails about the standard of care at the home.

The CQC referred the matter to the local authority's safeguarding team, who called in the police in May 2012.

The trial is expected to last up to four weeks.

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