Three members of staff at a Bedford care home have been found guilty of ill-treatment and wilfully neglecting an elderly resident after her family installed cameras to capture the treatment she was receiving.
Willows Care Home on Shakespeare Road was home to the 88-year-old great-grandmother for two years after she began to suffer from dementia.
The family were concerned about her welfare throughout her stay, but said that complaints to management were ‘brushed aside’.
The felt that they had no alternative but to provide their own proof, so installed cameras in their mother’s room.
Camera footage showed evidence of physical and mental abuse and led to court cases for three members of staff, Oliver Egwu, Sigita Nickuviene and Shital Karavadra.
On 3 November, Nickuviene and Karavadra were both found guilty of multiple counts of ill-treatment and wilful neglect of the resident.
They each received a suspended sentence of two months, with Nickuviene additionally being handed 200 hours of unpaid work.
Oliver Egwu appeared at Luton Crown Court on 25 February and was found guilty of six counts of ill-treatment and wilful neglect.
He was sentenced to three months imprisonment on each charge, to run concurrently, suspended for 18 months.
He will go to jail for three months and will have to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work.
In a statement, the family said: “Our elderly mother – who suffers from dementia – had to endure horrific inhumane and unacceptable care. Many people were involved with this physical and mental abuse in a care home that should be deemed as safe.
“Complaints to the management were brushed aside.
“The family therefore had no choice but to put in cameras to find out what was happening.
“The footage from the cameras showed horrific incidents of abuse in what should’ve been a caring environment.
“This has been a nightmare for the family leaving them completely shattered.
“Our mother is now in a home where staff understand dementia and are able to take care of all her needs.”
In a further blow, the family say that the manager at Willows has refused to apologise to them for the actions of his staff.
The seriousness of the allegations and the ensuing criminal investigation prompted an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
In a statement to the Bedford Independent, the CQC said: “This situation came to our attention on 3 September 2019 when the local authority (Bedford Borough Council) reported that the family of a service user had put a covert camera in her room and uncovered what they described as rough handling and actual physical abuse by a number of a staff working at this service at night.
“From this point on, CQC have met with the provider, local authority and police through the local authority’s serious concerns process, pending the outcome of the police investigation into the concerns.
“The provider was cooperative at the time of the incident and took swift action to minimise the risk of this happening again.
“We carried out an inspection following the concerns, on the 10 September 2019. You can read the report here here.”
Following the inspection, Willows Care Home was rated Requires Improvement.
The statement added: “We support the outcome of the court case in that the key staff involved received convictions relating to these concerns.”
We approached Willows Care Home for a comment and they provided the following statement: ‘When these matters came to light Hestia Healthcare Limited, which owns and operates The Willows Nursing Home, immediately took steps to remove those involved from the home.
“The Willows Nursing Home fully cooperated with the authorities whose investigations resulted in no actions against the home.
“We are proud of our contributions to the community we serve and continue to work hard to deliver the best person-centred care for our residents.”