Carer cleared of ill-treating patient

A 70-year-old nursing home carer has been cleared of ill treating a dementia patient.Shirley Dawes of Spring Road, Ipswich was accused of pushing an 83-year-old's face down onto his pillow and threatening to kick him because of his “challenging behaviour”.

A 70-year-old nursing home carer has been cleared of ill treating a dementia patient.

Shirley Dawes of Spring Road, Ipswich was accused of pushing an 83-year-old's face down onto his pillow and threatening to kick him because of his “challenging behaviour”.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court heard that on April 27 at Oakwood House Residential Home in Kesgrave the incontinent patient became aggressive with two care assistants who were trying to change his clothes.

Helen Booth prosecuting said he was “struggling” so Dawes and a nurse were called via an emergency bell to give assistance.


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Care assistant Margaret Sherwood (formerly Foster) told the court she and Kim Potkins were getting the patient ready for bed when he became aggressive and began punching out so they called for help to change his trousers as he was wet and they had “a duty of care” to change him.

Mrs Sherwood said: “Shirley came in shouting straight away and that made him worse. She said if you kick me I shall kick you back. Shirley put her hand over his face and pushed him back onto the bed.”

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She said Dawes' hand was fully over his face for up to three minutes but Mrs Potkins, who gave similar evidence, said Dawes' hand was over his face for up to three seconds.

Neither care assistant reported the incident until the following evening. They both said in their reports the patient was spitting but they failed to mention it in court.

Neither mentioned in their reports he had to be changed because he was wet but both stated this for the first time when they spoke in court.

Dawes, who denied ill treating the patient, said she had wanted to leave him to calm down but Mrs Potkins insisted he needed changing.

Dawes stated she told the patient: “Don't kick me, how would you like it if I kicked you?” as if telling off a child because he tried to kick her.

She said she held a sheet up in front of his mouth to prevent him spitting at him again after his saliva had landed on her uniform.

The court heard that Dawes, of previous good character, had worked at the home for about 14 years.

Magistrates said the witnesses' evidence was inconsistent and they would have expected such a “serious allegation” to have been reported straight away.

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