A DEMENTIA patient in her nineties was grabbed by the neck and force-fed by staff at a scandal-hit nursing home, a hearing was told.
Mary Reid Easton faces 22 charges of misconduct relating to her time as deputy manager of Hilton Gardens, Larkhall, North Lanarkshire.
The senior nurse is accused of stopping the dementia patient going to the toilet, using “excessive force” to put the woman in a chair and then forcing food into her mouth with a spoon.
She denies three charges relating to the alleged attack on “Patient N” in January 2010.
Ms Easton, who was appearing before a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in Edinburgh, is alleged to have “Grabbed her by the scruff of her neck,” “Pushed her back to her chair” and “Forced a spoonful of food into Patient N’s mouth”.
The 48-year-old from Larkhall denies a further 16 charges of failing to update care plans of 13 residents.
She admits three charges of updating residents’ care plans while she was on holiday or on days off.
Hilton Gardens, which charges residents £29,000-a-year, has been at the centre of several scandals.
Last month Stephen Murray, a care worker at the home, was jailed for seven years for raping a 65-year-old dementia patient and sexually abusing two other patients.
Dianne Lynn Connolly, a nurse at the home, told Monday’s hearing the incident with the dementia patient happened as residents were in the dining area.
She said: “Whilst having dinner Patient N got up to go to the bathroom.
“At that point Mary Easton grabbed her by the scruff of the neck. She pushed her back into her chair.”
Ms Connolly said she saw another member of staff “lifting a spoonful of food and forcing it into [Patient N’s] mouth”.
She continued: “Patient N had a habit of going to the toilet frequently throughout the day.
“The home does not allow any level of force and therefore I considered [Mary Easton’s] actions to be abuse.”
The incident was said to have happened on the care home’s specialist dementia ward.
Ms Connolly said the patient, who was in her nineties, “looked distressed” and at one point “thought she was going to fall”.
Asked why she did not report the incident immediately, she explained: “Mary Easton is a very manipulative person, she always turned things around and took over.”
Solicitor Lesley Johnston, representing Ms Easton, made an unsuccessful bid to drop the charges relating to Patient N, saying the NMC had not provided an exact date for the incident.
She said: “In my submission Miss Connolly’s evidence is extremely vague. She couldn’t recall who might have witnessed the incident. She did not take any immediate action.”
The hearing, chaired by Sue Whittaker, continues.
The 62-bed home has been the subject of critical reports from inspectors.
In March 2011, four members of staff, one nurse and three care assistants, were sacked pending an investigation into patient abuse.
It was alleged that members of staff physically assaulted residents, forced them to take cold showers and eat food from bins.
In March this year, two staff were sacked and two more resigned voluntarily after managers found them sleeping during a nightshift.
A concerned relative said after the incident: “The management heard four staff were sleeping during the night.
“One night bosses came into the care home unannounced and caught four of them sleeping on the job.”
Care home watchdogs have said the home has improved since new managers took over last year.
The home’s latest inspection report by the Care Inspectorate added:
“The management team were aware that there was still a lot of work to be done especially to consolidate the work that had already taken place.
“This included maintenance of personal care plans and other documentation maintained by the service.”