Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.

In December I spent two days at an Inquest into the death of an adult with severe learning difficulties who was cared for full time by staff employed by Lancashire County Council.

The three care workers responsible for her when she died all gave evidence at the Inquest.

One of them used the opportunity to express her personal regret to the family present that their relative died whilst under her care.

The family were very grateful for that and it helped them deal with the sad circumstances of the Inquest.

Last week at Preston Crown Court four care workers formerly employed at Hillcroft, Slyne with Hest, were sentenced for their abuse of vulnerable old people under their care.

The victims all had dementia so could not complain themselves nor give evidence but brave whistleblowers (a cleaner, another care worker, a hair dresser and a receptionist) did complain about the regime of abuse at Hillcroft.

It is now known that the management at Hillcroft did not think their complaints warranted sufficient evidence for a wider investigation and did not pass on the complaints to Lancashire County Council Adult Services.

I have some sympathy for Lancashire County Council Adult Services in the Hillcroft Case as it is hard for them to investigate allegations in such circumstances.

For others involved I have less sympathy.

In passing sentence on the Hillcroft Four, Judge Michael Byrne highlighted “weak” and “inadequate” management at the home led to the mistreatment. He also said the offences were “an indictment” on Hillcroft Management.

The families of the victims gave statements in Court before the sentencing.

Michael Rowlinson, whose father was a victim, looked at the Defendants in the dock and said “What sort of human being treats another with such disrespect”. Indeed.

He might also have added “And what kind of management does not take responsibility and does not apologise when there are failings under their watch?”.

As lawyers know an apology does not necessarily have to be an admission of legal liability. But it can go a long way to earn back respect and trust.