Monday 18 February 2019

Horror of care home abuse uncovered

The smart Georgian built Rostrevor nursing home has all the hallmarks of a house of horrors, according to the state's top health inspectors.

Some of the most shocking abuse is alleged to have been carried out by a male care assistant, Mr P, from 2008 until his recent dismissal.

It is claimed he physically and verbally abused residents at the Dublin home over a number of years.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) claimed incidents were largely unreported and effectively covered up by the alleged abuser.

But the court papers also suggest staff, on working visas, were afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs, despite repeated inspections.

Mr P is alleged to have thumped an elderly man`s head off a door frame and later called staff together to order them to say the man fell and hit his head on a hoist if his son asked about bruising and blood on his face.

The same elderly man - named on the District Court affidavit submitted last Friday as Mr JM, who died on February 13 of unrelated causes - was repeatedly kicked while on the ground on another occasion.

In a further horrific incident, Hiqa has accused Mr P of routinely taking another elderly woman to a bathroom on his own and told other staff that only he was allowed to do this.

The affidavit stated: "When he does so the staff members said that they hear Ms NJ screaming in the toilets and that this is a regular occurrence."

A third resident, known as Mr BB, was allegedly seen being slapped by the care assistant as he put him to bed.

Another female resident told her daughter around three years ago - when she could still communicate - not to allow Mr P deal with her. A staff member reported that the alleged abuser grabbed the woman by an arm and left her bruised.

Hiqa`s case centres on risks from the failure to act and negligence of the operators - Therese Lipsett, her daughters Sarah and Avila and the company set up to manage Rostrevor, Kiltelm.

Serious concerns arose after inspections on May 25 and 26 and a follow-up two days later, where previously undisclosed incidents were uncovered.

Hiqa's in-depth inquiries with two workers found incidents believed to be "significant and serious elder abuse, involving physical and verbal abuse".

Mr P is thought to have abused residents over a number of years.

Inspections found an alarming history of falls, injuries and incidents. There were also numerous complaints of pain among a sample of eight residents, but it was not clear how that was being assessed and treated.

The authority claims that records and documents about accidents and residents generally were very poor, with details on falls missing or very brief in almost all cases.

There were further allegations of abuse against another elderly male resident but Hiqa said the type and nature of abuse was not specified.

Staff were said to be "clearly frightened and concerned" they could lose their jobs if they mentioned any of the incidents as they understood their working visas were tied to the nursing home.

They were so concerned that three workers asked to be interviewed away from the nursing home, the court papers state.

Given the history of previous incidents staff believed that nothing would be done about Mr P and feared they would only be endangering their jobs by reporting him.

A number of past incidents, already publicised, at the home were also detailed as a worrying context to recent revelations.

In June 2005 serious allegations were made against a nurse over sexual and physical attacks on residents. A Garda investigation was carried out but there were no prosecutions.

The Health Service Executive sought to close the home then but laws at the time were not powerful enough, and owner Therese Lipsett was later fined.

An Bord Altranais, the nursing board, held fitness to practice inquiries against three registered nurses at the home - an alleged perpetrator, the nurse matron at the time and Therese Lipsett.

All three were guilty of professional misconduct and struck off at the end of last year.

Hiqa demanded Therese Lipsett have nothing to do with running Rostrevor House in February this year but despite the requests inspectors said she appeared to be involved right up until last month.

Hiqa said they told Sarah Lipsett of the inadequacies of her mother's role in the home, its risk management and the failings of training and reporting mechanisms in relation to elder abuse.

© Press Association

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