Guilty: The Matrons Who Ran A Care Home Of Horrors

Two women who ran a nursing home where elderly residents were neglected and abused were found guilty of misconduct yesterday. A hearing was told that their shocking negligence had left two people at death’s door.

{mosimage}They included a 79-year-old woman who needed urgent hospital treatment for malnutrition.

An official inspection dossier exposed widespread humiliation and abuse of residents at the private Laurel Bank Nursing Home in Halifax, which charged £445 a week.

Linda Parker (left) was cautioned while Lily Leatham (right) was left weighing 5st 1lb

Staff were said to have punched, threatened, sworn and aimed lewd taunts at elderly men and women.

Incontinent residents were left to sit in a “loopy lounge” all day, or abandoned in their beds in an insanitary and undignified state.

Yesterday, a professional conduct committee of the Nursing and Midwifery Council struck deputy matron Elisabeth Uttley, 62, off the register.

Now retired, she refused to turn up for the four-day hearing and was said to have never expressed any regrets.

But her boss, home manager Patricia Parker, 59, escaped with a formal caution for five years after admitting failing to provide adequate care.

The hearing was told that the “failures” of both women were “serious, systematic and sustained”.

But Mrs Parker was said to have apologised and learned from her mistakes.

The panel’s decision angered Marilyn Hartley, whose mother Lily Leatham, now 83, nearly died of malnutrition after six months of neglect.

Her weight dropped to 5st 1lb because she needed assistance to eat meals but was regularly left to sit helplessly in front of a full plate.

Mrs Hartley, 59, said last night: “I’m just devastated. I don’t think the NMC has sent the right message out.

“There was a culture of deceit, neglect and abuse.

“We had concerns that mum had stopped speaking and was losing weight, but the matron said that is what you have to expect with dementia. She lost so much weight she was unrecognisable.”

Mrs Hartley said she feared similar practices were happening in nursing homes across the country.

The Daily Mail has consistently highlighted the shortcomings of care homes through its Dignity for the Elderly campaign.

Mrs Leatham, who recovered after being moved to another home, was one of three victims who sued the home and won thousands in outofcourt settlements.

Another, Ivy McGuire, had lost the use of her left side after a stroke and needed a hoist to be moved.

But staff were inadequately trained and she was ‘covered in bruises’ from accidents.

The 78-year-old died a year after leaving the home.

Agnes Moore, 68, a chronic diabetic who eventually had both her legs amputated, was found in bed by her daughter ‘soaked in sweat’ during a warm summer’s day.

She was in an insanitary condition and unable to reach her wheelchair or a buzzer to call for help.

Mrs Moore had an open wound and later became critically ill with septicaemia.

Further shocking details were revealed in notes made by Paula McCloy, an inspector with the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the industry’s watchdog body.

The evidence – not considered by the hearing – was released to the daughter of a resident under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mrs McCloy recorded how one resident reported members of staff punching her in the stomach and waving scissors in her face.

One pensioner was warned: “If you scream again we will send you back to hospital.”

Food was in short supply, with just two chickens used to feed 37 residents for one main meal.

Staff used a resident’s phone to vote on Big Brother and called sex and dating lines on office phones, prompting a written reprimand from owner Christopher Bolland.