Sacked care home boss can carry on nursing

A BULLYING care home matron who formed a mock jazz band to torment elderly residents has been allowed to continue nursing.

Maureen Sheikh, 61, was sacked after being found guilty of playing a series of practical jokes to intimidate patients and colleagues at the St Mary’s nursing home in Chester-le-Street.

Yesterday the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard how the matron, who managed the home for 11 years, made life “unbearable” for some residents.

The panel heard how she and her gang of jokers mocked a stroke victim by mimicking her muddled speech, and that Sheikh deliberately put residents together who would not get on for entertainment.

Despite the list of bad taste jokes, Sheikh, who told the panel she had an unblemished career dating back many years, was handed a five-year caution order and was not stuck off.

Director of Age UK Sunderland Alan Patchett said: “I’m surprised by the decision.

“It doesn’t inspire confidence for elderly people thinking about going into a care home and people will be apprehensive in any care home she works in.

“She has had this behaviour and no real steps seem to have been taken to punish her.”

In one bizarre incident Sheikh put out a tannoy for the “Chester-le-Street jazz band” to come to the office before staff emerged banging pots and pans with wooden spoons and blowing party hooters and repeated the display the next day.

The panel was told Sheikh’s doctor husband had difficulty finding work due to the negative publicity surrounding the case and the family would struggle financially if she was struck off or suspended.

Imposing the five-year caution order panel chairman Pamela Ormerod said Sheikh had demonstrated an “uncaring and ambivalent nature” and her behaviour was “seriously deficient”.

She added: “The registrant displayed indifference for the welfare and well-being of her residents and staff. In relation to the abuse of residents, the panel considers it was highly disreputable behaviour and caused distress to a number of residents in her care.”

But she said Sheikh was working as a nursing home manager “without cause for concern” after a very long career in nursing which, until these events, was without blemish.

She said: “A more severe sanction could be justified based on the behaviour displayed. However it would be disproportionate in all the circumstances.”

Sheikh, from Washington, was dismissed from St Mary’s after failing to turn up to a disciplinary hearing. Today staff at St Mary’s, Church Chare, declined to comment on the outcome.