Carers could be jailed for ‘trussing’ pensioner

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A nursing home resident was trussed up like a mummy by a pair of carers looking to ensure they had a quiet shift.

The pensioner, 88, was tightly bound in a large bath towel leaving her unable to move in bed at the Alistre Lodge Nursing Home in St Annes Road East, St Annes.

Romanian married couple Cosmin and Ana Focsa have been warned they both face jail after they were found guilty of ill treating and wilfully neglecting Mrs Lea whilst she was in their care.

Mrs Lea was discovered by other staff at the home who took immediate action when they discovered her grey,sweating profusely, and dehydrated.

The home reported the incident to police immediately and sacked the couple once their conduct had become clear.

Cosmin, 37 and Ana, 40, of Exchange Street, Blackpool, were members of a four-person night shift on July 11 last year.

They had worked at the home for two months.

Malcolm Ishwerwood, prosecuting, told the court the victim could sometimes be a difficult resident and could be ‘feisty’.

She suffered from dementia and mobility problems and had to be checked regularly at night.

Mr Ishwerwood said “At 1am registered nurse Keiron Drane and care assistant Darren Hughes checked on her.

“The patient was under a duvet and sheet. They found all the bed wet through from sweat as was her clothing and pillow.”

“When they drew the duvet back they found that she had been tightly wrapped in a bath towel from her armpits down to her feet.”

“The towel was fitted so that she was lying on its ends.”

The court heard Nurse Drane had asked Cosmin Focsa who had done this and he said he and his wife had done it.

Cosim said he had seen patients wrapped up in other homes.

Mr Isherwood said:”She was wrapped tightly to restrict her movement and its was done to make the Focsa’s job easier.

“It was a callous ,cruel and selfish act.”

Mr Drane said he had to take immediate measures to cool the victim down and give her fluids.

He made it clear it must have taken two people to truss her up in such a manner – an action the court was told could could have a psychological effect.

“What happened to this lady was abuse and unacceptable and I reported it,” he said.

Mr Hughes, described the moment the victim was discovered.

He said:”[She] was a lovely old lady if a bit confused.

“When I saw her that night she was very grey.

“She could not get out of the towel she was trussed up in it.”

Giving evidence Cosmin Focsa said he could not remember the victim’s name.

He and his wife both denied the charge and said that others staff were jealous of them because they were allowed to work together on shifts.

They both claimed they felt discriminated against because they were Romanian migrants and they were given no time to challenge their dismissal.

That argument was rejected by District Judge Jeff Brailsford, sitting at Blackpool Magistrates Court, who said it was fortunate other care home staff had been diligent in their duties.

He told the couple: “What you did was to ill treat and neglect this elderly lady.

“It was deliberate and wholly inappropriate.

“For your own purposes you bound her to restrain her for a considerable length of time.

“It may well have been fortunate that other staff checked on her in her room when they did.”

“The defendants’ account of events is incredible and incapable of belief.”

“I am asking for probation reports on you and all sentencing options are open including prison.”

Lorraine Holt, manager at Alistre Lodge, which can cater for up to 43 residents, made it clear the home had acted swiftly and the defendants had been acting outside of accepted practices.

She said:”This showed us to be a strong care home prepared to bring in the police and help prosecute two members of staff.”

“They were both sacked immediately we found out what had happened.

“We acted robustly and justice has prevailed.”

”What happened is not covered by instructions to staff when they may have to use restraint.

“When I had statements from the other staff I sacked the Focsas immediately and ordered them off the premises.

“The Quality Care Commission and police were informed.”

The home is classified as good by the Care Quality Commission, across all fiveinspection areas: Safe, Effective, Caring, Responsive and Well-led.

It also has an Investors in People award.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council confirmed that Ana Focsa is currently suspended from working as a nurse, a job for which she is qualified.

She received an 18-month suspension order from the council last year which remains in place.It followed a fitness to practice investigation into her work.

A full hearing may follow.