A senior care home worker who force-fed an elderly resident and slapped another across the face has been jailed.
Carla Dawn Graham was described by colleagues as a “frightening individual” who “bullied them” while they worked at Heron Hill in Kendal.
Graham had denied the ill treatment or wilful neglect of three people who lacked capacity but was convicted of three charges at Carlisle Crown Court.
The 60-year-old of Vicars Fields, Kendal, was jailed for eight months.
The court heard Graham’s former colleagues turned whistleblowers, telling police of the abuse she doled out to three dementia sufferers during 2018.
Prosecutor Tim Evans said Graham, who was later sacked, was seen by a colleague to ram huge spoonfuls of hot food “fast and forcefully” into a resident’s mouth.
The court also heard she wrapped the woman’s arms in a nightie to restrain her and was heard to say, “Shut up and open your mouth.”
Graham repeatedly slapped the hands of a male resident in his 80s and was violent to a second woman who required gentle care, as she would lash out and spit due to her condition, the court heard.
When the woman struck Graham, she responded with an open palm slap across the face, threatened to give what was seen as a cold punishment shower and spoke with a colleague in a bid to avoid a complaint.
‘Breach of trust’
Defending, Claire Larton said Graham – described as the matriarch of her close knit South Cumbria family – accepted the jury’s verdicts “although she maintains her innocence”.
Judge Nicholas Barker said her three victims were “essentially helpless, extremely vulnerable, unable to do anything for themselves”.
“They were entirely in the hands of those who cared for them,” he said.
“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.
“Any allegations of neglect or abuse are treated with the upmost concern by Heron Hill, a spokesperson said.
“It is testament to the staff coming forwards that this individual was charged and convicted on these charges.
“At Abbey Healthcare the safety and wellbeing of our residents is our priority and staff are always encouraged to come forward with any concerns which they have and we have supported our staff through this challenging time.”