The Independent London Newspaper
3rd September 2014

Letters

Shocking footage of care home attack on disabled grandmother is captured by her family on hidden camera

Maria Worroll
Ash Court Care Centre, where the abuse took place

Pictured top: Disabled great-grandmother Maria Worroll
Pictured bottom: Ash Court Care Centre, where the abuse took place

Published: 19 April, 2012
by TOM FOOT

A CARER who was filmed beating a severely disabled great-grandmother on a secret spy camera in her Kentish Town care home was jailed for 18 months on Friday.

Jonathan Aquino pleaded guilty to common assault and ill-treatment under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in Blackfriars Crown Court.

The 30-year-old was filmed striking Maria Worroll, 81, in Ash Court Care Centre, in Ascham Street, last June.

The shocking footage will be revealed in a BBC Panorama special investigation on Monday night.

The abuse was discovered after Ms Worroll’s family, fearing she was being abused, installed a motion sensitive camera inside a fake clock in her care home bedroom.

She has Alzheimer’s, is severely disabled and cannot speak – meaning she could not reveal her ordeal.

Her son, John Worroll, a crane driver who lives in Swiss Cottage, told the New Journal: “She is slapped on the legs and arms violently. It is quite awful footage. I’m angry and disheartened. Mum spent her whole life working – she was quite a grafter – and paying her tax. She was a fantastic mother and she ended up at the hands of this brute.”

Ms Worroll was moved into the privately-run Ash Court after the Camden Council announced it would close one of its last “in-house” care homes in Wellesley Road, Gospel Oak.

The care service in Camden – and across the country – has steadily been privatised over the past two decades and Mr Worroll said he had concerned about carers’ low pay.

He said: “My personal opinion is that if the staff were paid a better wage the standard of care would be higher.

“A lot of these carers are from agencies that supply to different care homes. An agency make large profits and pays a minimal wage – that might be why the standard is not up to scratch. These people are very vulnerable – it is such a trusted position.

"Mum can’t talk back, she can’t walk, she can’t read, she can’t go to the toilet. It was only because my sister put the camera in that we are having this conversation now.

“I think if anything comes out of this, the actual people who look after the elderly need to be better vetted. [The system] needs to be overhauled.”

Ash Court had achieved a three-star “excellent” rating from the Care Quality Commission – the top rating awarded by the Government’s care standards watchdog.

A spokesman for its private operators, Forest Healthcare Ltd, said the care home worked towards a Gold Standard Framework for End of Life Care.

According to its website, Ash Court can “justifiably be described as wonderfully warm, vibrant and exceptionally friendly”.

Mr Worroll said his mother was moved there be­cause the centre “had a good write up”, adding: “The trouble is with these inspectors is they don’t look too deeply – they just check that everything is spick and span.”

Mr Trainer, deputy director of the CQC in London, admitted abuse could be missed by inspectors.

Mr Trainer said: “This case highlights the fact that concealed abuse of the elderly can take place even in a well-run care home.

“Criminal abuse, by its nature, usually takes place away from the eyes of management and away from the eyes of bodies like CQC. We can play a part in making sure care is safe but [we] cannot be everywhere.”

There were, at the time of the assault, 35 other Camden residents with physical difficulties living in Ash Court, which has 62 rooms. A further 19 residents have been placed there by the NHS.

According to Town Hall accounts, published online, Camden Council was paying the home’s private operators, Forest Healthcare Ltd, £1.6million each year.

Fees range from £692 to £1,100 a week.

A spokesman for Forest Healthcare said they had been “shocked and disappointed” after viewing the footage.

A statement said: “The dignity, health and well-being of all the people we support at Ash Court remains our number one priority.”

The spokesman added:“We are pleased justice has been done in the case. Four female carers were also immediately suspended.
 
As soon as we were given the footage to view in November 2011 we completed disciplinary proceedings and all four were dismissed.

From the time the allegations were made until their dismissal these individuals were barred from working at Ash Court or any of its sister homes.

The wider staff team at Ash Court have provided many years of excellent care and were shocked by the truly unacceptable behaviour of these individuals.”

A Camden Council spokeswoman said: “As soon as we were made aware of an allegation of abuse we carried out an immediate safeguarding review.

“Social workers interviewed all residents who had direct contact with the accused immediately and as an additional step our social workers also interviewed the remaining residents of the home. No further allegations were made.”

Anyone wanting to report alleged abuse can contact 020 7974 4000 or Camden community police on 020 8733 5665.

NEW JOURNAL COMMENT: 'Can care be compatible with profit in care homes?' (click here)

 

Comments

Ash Court

I am a Filipino Nurse, and have been working here in th UK for 12 years now and I cried when I watched the footage...! I feel so sorry for this patient who cannot defend herself, if I was her daughter, I would definitely do the same! I am so ashamed for these so called carers from the same country as mine, who clearly shows they are not fit to be in this line of profession!

Vulnerable people should be protected at all cost and a serious punishment for offence should be in place!

Ash Court

I have watched the BBC Panorama and I can't believe what I saw... I was horrified. It was so disgusting. This health care should not be allowed to work in a healthcare environment because he don't know what caring means. I felt so sorry for Maria and other Marias who was put on a situation like this, no one deserves this kind of treatment. These healthcares are a huge embarrassment to Filipino people.

Ash Court

The maltreatment of older people in care homes is disgraceful and should never be tolerated. Unfortunately stories like this are all too common and expose the challenges the authorities face in keeping older people safe from harm. One strategy that could be adopted by the friends and relatives of older people living in care homes is to help them switch to homes that provide decent services that treat people with dignity and respect. If we all did this, the poor homes would soon go out of business and the quality homes would flourish.

Ash Court

This is a very distressing article and it is appropriate that the worker concerned has been brought to justice. However, I am concerned by the opening line which refers to the worker as a "carer". Carer is a term which describes someone who cares for someone in their family, a friend, neighbour etc. Using the term here to describe a care-worker therefore is misleading, as well as alarming. I find myself correcting the misuse of the term "carer" on an almost daily basis, as it is important to understand that difference in the terms. In future, please be careful about using the correct term when describing people's roles. Thank you.

Ash Court Care Home

My father was in Ash Court for 17 months. After he had been there a few months we were getting phone calls from him in the evening saying he wanted to go the toilet. We were saying to him ring the buzzer and one of the nurses would come he was telling us he had rung the buzzer and no one was coming. We had to ring the home and speak to whoever answered the phone and tell them that he was distressed. As he had dementia we thought he was confused. This went on for a couple of months. One morning when my mum went up to visit him he said he needed to go to the toilet. My mum told him to ring the buzzer and he said he had. When she looked the buzzer had been pulled out the wall. My mum approached the Sister in Charge and was told he
pulled it out. My mum knew that it was impossible for him to do this, but gave her the benefit of the doubt. This happened a few more times and still the Sister was saying he did it himself. My mum had had enough so she went and
called the Manager. The Manager went to my dads room and said that my dad
could not have pulled the buzzer out. She taped the buzzer up so it could not be pulled out.

I would also like to comment on the article where they say that all four members were dismissed. I don't agree with this.

The home sent out letters to all relatives saying that the staff members who were suspended would be returning to Ash Court. We wrote a letter along with other patients relatives saying that under no circumstances were they to have any dealings with my dad. My sister, brother and I had to meet with a Gentleman from Head Office who tried his best to get these people back to Ash Court as they had been re trained whilst they were suspended.

Post new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.