Care home nurse who neglected 87-year-old resident handed suspended prison sentence

A care home nurse convicted of neglecting an 87-year-old resident who endured a “nightmare” ordeal and later died has been given a suspended jail term.

Catalina Ferchiu (pictured) was found guilty last month of wilfully neglecting Rachael Smith during an overnight shift at a residential home in Rugby, Warwickshire, on February 2 2018.

Passing sentence on Monday, Judge Peter Cooke told the 55-year-old that only she knew why she had failed to act after seeing that the paralysed pensioner had an unexplained bruise and had vomited.

The judge, sitting at Warwick Crown Court, told Ferchiu: “You displayed an entirely cavalier attitude to her care over the next few hours, maintaining no meaningful observations of her condition.

“It is down to you and nobody else that the marked deterioration that she suffered over the next few hours went unnoticed.”

A trial was told Mrs Smith, who was living at Rugby’s Overslade House Care Home, suffered from incapacity caused by an earlier stroke.

It was not suggested by prosecutors that the neglect shown by Ferchiu contributed to Mrs Smith’s death.

Before sentencing Ferchiu to a 20-month sentence suspended for 18 months, the judge added: “Rachael Smith was a lady whose mental faculties were substantially intact.

“Sadly, one can only assume therefore that she was aware that she was descending deeper and deeper into illness… that she was aware that nobody was coming to help her.”

Mrs Smith was taken to hospital after a handover at the care home when another nurse “took one look” at Mrs Smith and dialled 999.

The pensioner, who died on February 23, never recovered from a collapse in her health that happened while she was in Ferchiu’s care, Judge Cooke said.

Although the neglect represented very serious offending, he said factors including Ferchiu’s loss of career allowed him to pass a suspended sentence.

Judge Cooke told Ferchiu, who is originally from Romania: “You have now lost the only career you have ever known after 35 years of blameless public service.

“I accept that for you to behave as you did was plainly wholly out of character.”

Accepting that Ferchiu had provided impeccable care for countless vulnerable patients over a long career, the judge told her: “You are plainly not a wicked woman or a heartless one.

“Notwithstanding the nightmare to which Rachael Smith was subjected and the harm which was done, yours is not a case which means that a middle-aged woman of otherwise exemplary character must go immediately into custody.”

Ferchiu, of Pool Close, Rugby, was also ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work.

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