Gary Rycroft column: What happened at this care home is scandal for society

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.

The abuse of residents with severe dementia at Hillcroft Nursing Home in Slyne is an undoubted trauma for the victims and their families, but also a scandal for society as a whole.

As we face up to the reality of an ageing population and the fact that more of us will die whilst living with dementia, we need to ask how the abuse went on for so long - 18 months at least so the Court heard - before it was challenged.

I am pleased to say it seems unlikely that such events would happen nowadays in a school but why is the same standard of safe guarding which children quite rightly enjoy, not applied to those at the other end of the age spectrum who are equally vulnerable?

Like any scandal, Hillcroft has turned up heroes and villains.

The heroes are the victims (who by the nature of their illness are unable to speak up for themselves), their families and of course the whistle blowers who first reported the abuse.

Later the Police and CPS put together a case strong enough to produce guilty pleas from one defendant before the trial and guilty verdicts on the three defendants who were tried at Preston Crown Court.

The abusers were tried under new law (The Mental Capacity Act) and so blowing the whistle and reporting behaviour you know is morally repugnant but may not be illegal is very brave - especially when you are the first to speak out.

The obvious villains are the convicted ‘carers’ but in a dignified and restrained statement read on the steps of the Court after the verdict by Michael Rowlinson, a son of one the victims, the owners of Hillcroft, the CQC, Lancashire County Council Adult Services and NHS North Lancashire were also mentioned.

It does seem “the system” let down the victims.

The whistle blowers are heroes but it took four whistles to be blown before they were taken seriously.

Again, it’s hard to imagine that happening if abuse against a child was reported.

The guilty are to be sentenced next year.

May justice be done.