Dementia doll abuse carers at Rochdale nursing home detained

Shauna Higgin and Victoria Johnson Image copyright GMP
Image caption Shauna Higgin and Victoria Johnson both received custodial sentences

Two care workers who tormented dementia patients by torturing their "comfort dolls" have been detained.

Shauna Higgin and Victoria Johnson both admitted two counts of ill treatment of residents at Ashbourne House Nursing Home in Middleton, Rochdale, last year.

The pair shared videos and images of themselves "harming" the therapy dolls.

Higgin, 20, of Middleton, was detained at a young offender institution for 13 months while Johnson, 23, from Oldham was jailed 12 months.

Image copyright Manchester Evening News
Image caption The care workers snatched the 'dementia dolls' from patients

On sentencing at Manchester Crown Court Minshull Street, Judge Andrew Lowcock described the offences as "cruel" and said: "You treated [residents] as playthings, as the butt of your tasteless jokes."

The dolls are used as a therapeutic tool by residents who care for them like their own babies.

In one photo, titled 'Tug of War' Higgin, of Boarshaw Walk, pulls a doll off an elderly woman who holds on with her hands to stop it being snatched away.

Image copyright Manchester Evening News
Image caption The judge said they were "cruel offences"

On another occasion Johnson filmed Higgin throwing a doll to the floor and shouting "Die baby. Die."

The doll was also photographed in a variety of other positions such as being hung by its neck, in a tumble dryer, a cooking pot, submerged in a fish tank and being dragged along a corridor by Higgin.

A whistleblower sent the pictures to the Manchester Evening News and police were called in January.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Ashbourne House Nursing Home has been unavailable for comment

The 29-bedroom nursing home which cares for people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease was placed in special measures earlier this year by the Care Quality Commission.

The CQC said in a statement after sentencing it was "pleased" with the outcome as it sends a strong message that abuse or neglect on vulnerable members society will not be tolerated.

Ashbourne House Nursing Home - run by Silverdale Care Homes Limited - has so far been unavailable for comment.

Two counts of wilful neglect or ill treatment by a case worker are to lie on file.

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