ONTD Political

2 women banned from working with elderly after bullying dementia patients with puppets

9:08 pm - 01/07/2011

Two care home workers have been given suspended jail sentences for using a Green Goblin glove puppet to bully elderly women.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how Helen Males and Eleni Saunders frightened two residents with a Green Goblin puppet at The Old Rectory care home for Alzheimer or dementia patients, near Cardiff.

Males, 34, received a 52-week jail term and 22-year-old Saunders was given 38 weeks. They must also observe a curfew for the next 24 weeks between 2000 and 0800.

Branding the offences "disgraceful", Judge Philip Richards banned them from working in the care profession indefinitely.

He said the defendants ridiculed and frightened those in their care and asked the pair how they would feel if someone close to them was treated in the same manner.

"They were employed to care for them but they ridiculed them, frightened them and caused distress to them on repeated occasions," he said

The court heard the pair laughed while using the puppet to scare women patients, aged 87 and 91.

Prosecutor Leighton Hughes said they made "growling noises" with the puppet, an evil character from the Spiderman comics, to frighten their victims.

He said: "Males pulled a glove puppet from behind her back and thrust it towards the woman, making a growling sound.

"Saunders, her partner in crime, held the woman's hands in her lap at one point so she couldn't fight back.

"She was so scared she slid down in her chair to try and get away and they laughed."

Other staff at the Old Rectory were so shocked by the behaviour they raised the alarm and the pair were arrested.

Mr Hughes said the home catered specifically for elderly patients suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia.

"The ladies were vulnerable with little understanding and we say were known by these defendants to lack mental capacity and so were easy targets," he said.

"They bullied, victimised, belittled and scared them, just for the fun of it."

He said the women had also amused themselves by "flicking" the ears of patients.

Males, of Barry, and Saunders, of Wenvoe, had denied all three charges that they breached the Mental Capacity Act in their role as care workers.

They were convicted of two charges and cleared of one.

Males must also complete 250 hours unpaid work, while Saunders must complete 200 hours.

One of the victims, 87-year-old Eva Bramhall, has since died and the others were not called to give evidence.

After the verdict, her daughter-in-law Carol Bramhall said: "I'm shocked about what happened. I'm just so upset to think that could have happened to her."

Det Insp Huw Thomas of South Wales Police applauded the judge's decision to ban the women from the profession for life.

"I think this is the worst sort of offence because people put their relatives in these homes to be looked after and cared for and then something like this happens," he said.

"I think abuse of the elderly is one of the worst crimes because they are vulnerable and can't retaliate or stand up for themselves."

He praised the care worker who raised the alarm for her bravery in reporting the incidents.

But he said those who put relatives in homes should also be vigilant in checking that they are being properly cared for.

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Good on judge that he barred them from working in as care workers ever again. Child abuse tends to get the attention while elder abuse rarely makes headlines. We've got a child abuse tag, no general abuse tag
kitanabychoice 8th-Jan-2011 04:29 am (UTC)
I'm glad these people are getting jail time and being banned from the healthcare profession. I would hate for that to have been my grandmother. I would've had to crack some heads, seriously.
hotcoffeems 8th-Jan-2011 05:17 am (UTC)
Not treating a person with basic human dignity is completely against anything a caregiver should be doing.

Until her death this summer I lived with and cared for a terminal cancer patient, and this was one thing those 8 months made me feel even more strongly about since then: even the very ill, even those with limited capacity to understand what is going on, are absolutely entitled to being treated with some kind of baseline respect for their dignity as human beings.

What these people did is contemptible. This is the fundamental problem with bullies -- and especially those who target the defenseless.
aviv_b 8th-Jan-2011 05:32 am (UTC)
Caring for sick and/or elderly people is a demanding occupation. Particularly people who may not always be cooperative or aware of what's going on. YOu have to wonder why they chose this profession in the first place. Not excusing the behavior, but did they burn out or did they seek out a place of work where they'd have access to vulnerable people much a child molester seeks out occupations giving access to children.
chaya 9th-Jan-2011 12:51 am (UTC)
As somebody who worked with caretakers for the elderly, I can tell you that plenty of them are overworked and 'burned out' and never, ever, ever do anything close to this. Many of them come from cultures that are much more family-oriented than what we're used to here and consider their jobs hard work but worthwhile. Do not mistake this behaviour for burnout.

These people? Sound like sociopaths.
aviv_b 9th-Jan-2011 02:41 am (UTC)
YOu're right. I just couldn't believe people could do this unless they were well..sociopaths. And given that I have two elderly parents that will probably sooner rather than later need assistance of some type, it scares the crap out of me.
randomneses 8th-Jan-2011 05:33 am (UTC)
thatdamnninja 8th-Jan-2011 05:52 am (UTC)

I'm glad they got caught, and I'm glad they are banned. Also, I am glad the sky is blue.
omgangiepants 8th-Jan-2011 10:12 am (UTC)
If someone had pulled that shit on my grandma when she was in care I would be the one going to prison.
thingofshadows 8th-Jan-2011 11:02 am (UTC)
This is disgusting and outrageous. I guess they don't realize that when they're old, they might end up in that same situation...
dreammeanyway 8th-Jan-2011 11:26 am (UTC)
brb crying
dearmisterecho 8th-Jan-2011 02:12 pm (UTC)
So fucking disgusting and cruel >:O
13thleprechaun 8th-Jan-2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
That is sick. D: I don't understand people who get off on being cruel to others.
dramaturgy 8th-Jan-2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
Holy shit what is wrong with people.

My grandfather was in a nursing home for almost two years before he died, and it was the next town over so collectively we saw him perhaps once a week. My aunt lived in the same town and she was there almost every day -- if she hadn't been there to keep such a close eye, thinking that something like this could have been happening to him makes me ill.
deleriumd 9th-Jan-2011 12:18 am (UTC)
I think what's worse is that on some new sources in England, people are commenting and saying that it's a big misunderstanding because "old people with dementia love puppets" and react frightened, and then begin to laugh.
chaya 9th-Jan-2011 12:53 am (UTC)

Edited at 2011-01-09 12:54 am (UTC)
cecilia_weasley 9th-Jan-2011 12:47 am (UTC)
I am disgusted. If I found out that someone was doing this to my grandmothers or their friends, heads would roll. What's most upsetting about this is that abuse of the elderly is nothing new. And not much attention is paid to it. :(
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