Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland care worker struck-off for attack on 94-year-old woman with cancer and dementia

Manor Care Home in Magherafelt
Manor Care Home in Magherafelt

By Lisa Smyth

A care worker convicted of assaulting a 94-year-old woman suffering from cancer and dementia has been struck off.

Philip Paine was previously handed a suspended prison sentence for the harrowing attack at a nursing home owned by disgraced care home provider Runwood Homes.

A fitness to practise hearing was told that the 43-year-old, whose address was given in court as Manor Close in Magherafelt, was providing personal care to the victim when she became agitated.

The Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) hearing was told that Paine grabbed the woman by the arms, after which she told him: "Stop, you are hurting me". He then trailed her roughly across the bed.

The victim, who had lung failure, breast cancer and dementia, was described as "being distressed and struggling to get a breath at this time". At this point, Paine left the room and said he "could take no more".

The incident was witnessed by another care assistant, who said she was "terrified" by what had happened and reported it to the nurse on duty.

Paine denied two charges when he appeared at Magherafelt Magistrates' Court in July this year.

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However, he was found guilty of the ill-treatment of a patient receiving treatment for a mental disorder at Manor Care Home in Magherafelt on May 12 last year.

He was also convicted of the assault of the resident on the same date and was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for one year.

At the NISCC hearing last month, the panel was told Paine began working at Manor Care Home in November 2012.

He was suspended and a police investigation was launched after he was accused of assaulting a resident of the home, the panel heard.

It further heard that assaulting a vulnerable nursing home resident "could not be considered to be at the lower end of the spectrum of behaviour".

Looking at the evidence, the panel deemed Paine had breached a series of standards expected of care assistants, including being honest and trustworthy, not abusing, neglecting or harming service users and following procedures to keep people safe from harm.

The NISCC committee found Paine's fitness to practise was impaired as a result of his convictions. It noted that while there had been no previous concerns about him, a range of aggravating factors was present in the case.

The panel said his conviction "constituted a serious breach of trust", which "presented a significant risk of harm".

Paine had also not shown any remorse for his actions, the panel stressed, adding that it had "no information to indicate that the registrant is unlikely to repeat his criminal behaviour in the future".

The panel continued: "It (is) concluded that, given the seriousness of the registrant's criminal convictions and his lack of insight and remediation of his failings, a removal order is the only sanction appropriate to protect the public and to maintain public confidence in the social care profession and the council as its regulator.

"The committee considered that the registrant's actions constituted a serious departure from professional standards, as set out in the standards of conduct and practice for social care workers.

"The registrant's criminal behaviour involved unlawful assault and ill-treatment of a vulnerable service user with serious health issues and constituted an abuse of his position of trust as a social care worker... (it) brought the social care profession into disrepute.

"The committee considered that public confidence in the social care profession, and the council as its regulator, would be undermined if a social care worker who was criminally convicted of unlawful assault and ill-treatment of a service user, and who failed to show appropriate insight or remediation, was allowed to remain on the register."

The assault on the resident of Manor Care Home happened just one month before the publication of a damning report into the conditions at another care home owned by Runwood Homes. The Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland uncovered a litany of neglect and abuse at Dunmurry Manor.

The health regulator carried out an unannounced inspection of Manor Care Home the day before the assault on the elderly resident.

It was carried out as part of a series of inspections of care homes owned by Runwood Homes in response to concerns that had been brought to the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

No areas for improvement were identified during the inspection.

Runwood Homes did not respond to a request for a comment.

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