Care home worker jailed for force-feeding resident hot food and slapping another

A care home worker has been jailed for slapping a dementia-stricken pensioner in the face and ramming hot food ‘fast and forcefully’ into another’s mouth.

Carla Dawn Graham, 60, was described as ‘frightening’ by colleagues, who say she ‘bullied them’ as they cared for residents at Heron Hill care home in Kendal, Cumbria.

Carlisle Crown Court heard how her elderly victims were ‘essentially helpless’ and extremely vulnerable’.

Graham’s co-workers decided to blow the whistle and inform police of the abuse she dished out to three dementia sufferers during 2018.

She was found guilty of the ill treatment or wilful neglect of three people who lacked capacity and was jailed for eight months.

Tim Evans, prosecuting, said Graham was seen ramming huge spoonfuls of hot food ‘fast and forcefully’ into a resident’s mouth, causing her ‘face to go bright red and to have a look of startlement and distress.’

She also wrapped the woman’s arms in a nightie to restrain her and was heard saying: ‘Shut up and open your mouth.’

Graham then repeatedly slapped the hands of a male resident in his 80s and was violent to a second woman, who would spit and lash out due to her condition.

When that woman struck Graham, she responded with an open palm slap across the face.

The court heard she then threatened to give her victim a cold shower as punishment and later spoke with a colleague to try to avoid a complaint.

Graham, of Kendal, had previous convictions for theft, fraud and burglary and served jail terms in the past – but been out of trouble since 1988.

Claire Larton, defending, said her client – described as the matriarch of her family – accepted the jury’s verdicts yet ‘maintains her innocence’.

Describing her three victims, Judge Nicholas Barker said: ‘They were essentially helpless, extremely vulnerable, unable to do anything for themselves.

‘They were entirely in the hands of those who cared for them. In my judgement, you were ill-suited to this line of work.

‘You did not have the temperament, you did not have the patience. There is a breach of trust here. You breached it in an egregious way affecting the most vulnerable.’

Abbey Healthcare, which runs Heron Hill, said management informed the authorities when staff told them about Graham’s behaviour.

Regional director for Herron Hill Sarah Willetts said: ‘Carla Graham was employed at Heron Hill as a member of care staff.

‘Her colleagues whistle-blew to the home’s management team when they suspected neglect was taking place.

‘At this point the management team informed the local authority Safeguarding team, Care Quality Commission and the Police. Carla Graham was also dismissed from her post at Heron Hill.

‘Any allegations of neglect or abuse are treated with the upmost concern by Heron Hill.

‘It is testament to the staff coming forward that this individual was charged and convicted on these charges.

‘At Abbey Healthcare the safety and wellbeing of our residents is our priority. Staff are always encouraged to come forward with any concerns which they have.

‘And we will support our staff through this procedure, as we have done with the staff involved with this case through this challenging time.’

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