BETRAYED: Tragedy of the 1m OAPs Abused by Those Paid to Care

The Mirror (London, England), April 26, 2004 | Go to article overview

BETRAYED: Tragedy of the 1m OAPs Abused by Those Paid to Care


Byline: ROS WYNNE-JONES and NICK WEBSTER

THE sickening catalogue of torture, abuse and neglect of up to a million pensioners makes horrific reading.

Nursing home patients crying out in pain because of rotting bed sores, freezing to death by an open window and having fingernails ripped out by a heartless carer are just some of the unbelievably cruel accounts of what's happening to Britain's elderly today.

Vulnerable folk being abused by the very people who are paid to make sure their later years are comfortable and dignified.

Yet the plight of these victims is being ignored. And the hidden scandal has reached epidemic proportions - on a scale similar to the child abuse revelations of the 80s.

A Mirror probe uncovered the shocking treatment of pensioners in some care centres. Others were even abused by their own relatives at home.

Campaign group Action on Elder Abuse believes the Government report last week that warned 500,000 pensioners were victims of cruelty or neglect, is too conservative.

Chief executive Gary FitzGerald said: "That only dealt with elderly people being abused in their own homes. If you add those in nursing homes, we fear the figure is much closer to one million. Twenty years ago with child abuse no one wanted to believe it was happening and children went on being abused. Today, nobody wants to believe 80 to 90-year-olds are being abused, which allows that to go on.

"Everybody has heard of Victoria Climbie, the eight-year-old abused at the hands of her carers. But hardly anybody knows the name of Margaret Panting, the 78-year-old who died of hundreds of injuries including cigarette burns to her body. The only difference between the cases is 70 years."

AEA said care home staff often lack the training to spot abuse.

Last week, the Commons Health Select Committee revealed that 1.4million care workers are unregistered and highlighted how patients were needlessly given medicines to keep them quiet.

In a damning report it also said many older people were too frightened, too embarrassed or unable to report cruelty or neglect.

Now, backed by the Mirror, Mr FitzGerald has pledged to help end the scandal.

He will add every signature sent in by readers on the coupon below to a petition which he will then take to Downing Street.

HONORA DERHAM, 82

HONORA died in agony after nursing home staff failed to notice bed sores were slowly rotting away her body.

The sores had eaten down to her spine, yet Honora, who had Alzheimer's disease, was given only paracetamol for the pain.

Badly dehydrated, Honora, of Widnes, Cheshire, was admitted to hospital where a specialist said her condition was the worst he'd seen.

An inquest blamed "gross neglect" of nursing home staff for her death.

FRANCES HALES, 90

MASSIVE bedsores on Frances's back became so badly infected she developed extremely painful gangrene.

Staff at Eastmoor Nursing Home in Ilkley, West Yorks, thought her cries for help were a symptom of dementia.

Her daughter discovered the black, rotting flesh on her back and Frances was taken to Airedale General Hospital. She died four days later.

The National Care Standards Commission investigated. It concluded the home had not done all it could for Frances.

PATRICIA HOLT, 72

THE Alzheimer's disease sufferer often consumed other residents' food and drink.

But staff at Plas Rhosnesni nursing home in Wrexham left out cleaning liquid in a water jug - which she drank, probably mistaking it for juice.

She died of pneumonia six days later. The home's owners admit failing in their duty and now await sentence.

DOROTHY LYONS, 76

THE retired factory worker was neglected so badly she weighed a mere three stone nine pounds when she died in a care home.

Dorothy, with five granddaughters and 12 great-grandchildren, was visited by her GP a day before dying of pneumonia. …

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