Last week six members of staff from Winterbourne View care home near Bristol were jailed after being convicted of neglect or abuse of patients. The six employees were handed sentences of between six months and two years, with a further five staff from the home being handed suspended sentences. Judge Neil Ford told the workers that their behaviour had culminated in “widespread feelings of revulsion’.
The abuse, which was uncovered after a BBC Panorama documentary team undertook secret filming, included patients being physically slapped, trapped under chairs and having their hair pulled. The patients, many of whom had severe learning disabilities, were also sworn at and poked in the eyes. The abuse also included one perpetrator threatening to grate a patient’s face off with a cheese grater, whilst another patient had mouthwash poured into her eyes. It has also come to light that one patient had tried to escape the abuse by attempting to jump out of a window at the home and was then mocked by members of staff for doing so.
Terry Bryan, a former nurse at Winterbourne View initially raised the alarm about the ill-treatment of patients by contacting the care home’s owner, Castlebeck Ltd. Mr Bryan’s concerns about the culture of abuse developing at the home were ignored however. This has since led to heavy criticism of Castlebeck Ltd; who are accused of placing financial motives before the health and well being of patients. By 2010, the reported average weekly fee for a patient was Â£3,500 and the 26 bed home was turning over Â£3.7 million.
After his concerns were ignored by the home’s owners, Terry Bryan then contacted the Care Quality Commission, but his allegations were again ignored. Mr Bryan then contacted the BBC which ultimately led to the May 2011 Panorama programme illustrating the severity of the abuse.
Although Winterbourne has now been closed down, the serious psychological harm as a direct result of the abuse remains with the patients. The families of the victims have also struggled to come to terms with the seriousness of the treatment their relatives received at Winterbourne. The fact that the victims suffered from learning difficulties meant that they were particularly vulnerable and couldn’t make themselves heard. The fact that it took an undercover investigation to bring this abuse into the public eye is equally concerning.
Here at Farleys we are specialists in helping victims claim compensation for abuse suffered in care homes. The Care Quality Commission has received over 4,300 complaints in the last 20 months relating to the treatment of elderly and disabled people in care. If you have been affected by any of the issues above do not hesitate to contact us to speak to a solicitor who will be able to advise you on the grounds for making a successful claim.