Nursing home abuse sparks calls for change in law

Chris Haywood, whose father was abused by carers at Hillcroft Nursing Home Slyne with Hest.
Chris Haywood, whose father was abused by carers at Hillcroft Nursing Home Slyne with Hest.

As the families of abuse victims at Hillcroft nursing home speak of their anger, Morecambe’s MP is fighting for a change in the law.

David Morris today called an emergency meeting of the Care Bill Committee to try to secure legislation that would mean care home managers could be found culpable in abuse cases.

An investigation by the Care Quality Commission is ongoing and Hillcroft remains under intense scrutiny. At present care home managers can’t be prosecuted retrospectively.

Chris Haywood, 37, from Lancaster, whose father Ken was abused, is set to appear on ITV1’s flagship daytime show This Morning on Friday, to share his story with the nation.

He said: “The sentences were expected. I’m not pleased that anyone has gone to prison, there’s no celebration from my side, but justice has been done and we are happy to draw a line underneath it all.

“I’ve sat in a room with the Care Quality Commission and David Morris MP to discuss putting forward suggestions for the new Care Bill, which hasn’t been touched since 1940s. It would mean the owner of a care home could also go to prison.

“I haven’t received any apology from the owners of Hillcroft, of Carins, Pearson or Moore. Darren Smith apologised in court through his solicitor.

“All the families feel very aggrieved that we haven’t had that apology from Hillcroft’s owners.

“Katie Cairns, who stamped on my father’s foot, hasn’t made any apology whatsoever.

“People pay for care for their loved ones and, if you pay for a service and you don’t get it, you would expect to get your money back. We have had nothing back.

“We didn’t just not get the service we paid for, we got the opposite - our loved ones were abused.”

At the sentence hearing on Friday, Michael Rowlinson, the son of one of the abused patients, read out a statement.

He said: “What type of person treats others with such disrespect?

“My dad is a retired chartered surveyor and has been married to my mum for 57 years. By Christmas 2009, his Alzheimer’s got worse and it had become to difficult to care for him at home. In summer 2010 he moved into Hillcroft. In May 2012 we found out my dad had been subjected to abuse and humiliation.

“We don’t know how dad feels about it because of his illness but we know he would not have tolerated this type of behaviour if he had seen it happen to others.

“We feel angry that this could have been allowed to happen to dad and sorry that mum had to know about it.

“We hope that this sentence will reflect the crimes which have been committed against vulnerable people who couldn’t look after themselves.

“It seems clear that managers covered up the allegations and failed in their basic duty to provide safe care for residents. They have not been held accountable properly by the Care Quality Commission and it took an unacceptable length of time to involve the police.

“We are still waiting for formal apologies from the defendants and the directors of Hillcroft.”

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Amanda Broadbent, the daughter of one of the victims, described the devastation the revelations have had on the family.

She said: “We feel a huge amount of guilt. We moved my father to the home thinking it would be the best place for his care.

“He is an exceptional father and we love him dearly and we have found it very distressing to listen to the evidence given at the trial.

“I have struggled to sleep at night and find it difficult to understand what has happened and how somebody would treat someone in this way.”

Morecambe’s MP David Morris has called for the owners of the Hillcroft nursing home to apologise to the relatives of patients who were abused.