Home Barking, Dagenham, & Surrounding Areas Care workers ‘lock elderly woman in room, and eight hours later she is seen waiting at the door trying to use the toilet’

Care workers ‘lock elderly woman in room, and eight hours later she is seen waiting at the door trying to use the toilet’

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Eunice Kungu

After locking an elderly woman in her residential care room without water for eight hours, two care staff were spared jail time. Jane Harvey, 56, of Lichfield Road, Blackpool, and Eunice Kungu, 54, of Springpond Road, Dagenham, were in charge of a dementia patient at a Redbridge care home but were fed up with her repeatedly straying out of her room confused, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard on Thursday (August 3).

At roughly 1.30 a.m. on November 20, 2021, the couple planned to lock her in her room, tying the door doorknob tight with a sports bra. According to the testimony submitted in court, at about 9 a.m – over 8 hours later – the lady was discovered waiting at the entrance with her mobility frame, attempting to use the restroom.

“She was found in a room, the temperature of which was described as a greenhouse in the summer. There was no water for her in the room for her to drink,” Judge Paul Southern said.

Prosecutor Emma Heath told the court that both caregivers were “equally and jointly responsible,” but had a history of excellent character. Aparna Rao, Harvey’s lawyer, asked a suspended sentence for her client, noting that the behavior was “completely out of character” for her.

“This is a case of recklessness and incompetence, not failure to perform,” Ms Rao continued. “Remorse is probably an understatement,” said Kungu’s lawyer, Steven Attridge, as he sought for a suspended sentence.

He said how the woman “constantly” tripped her own alarm, leaving her room in a state of confusion, causing Harvey and Kungu to intervene.

“They had a number of other residents to deal with so the action was made to keep her in the flat. That was the wrong action,” Mr Attridge said, adding that he did not believe his client had acted in malice.

Both caregivers pled guilty to willfully ignoring a care worker at the earliest opportunity. According to Judge Southern, their acts demonstrated “deliberate disregard” for their patient, making them severely culpable.

He said that the woman’s dementia meant she couldn’t remember the risk she was exposed to, therefore the harm was only mitigated by “luck.” Judge Southern sentenced both ladies to eight months in jail, suspended for 18 months, and ordered them to do 21 days of Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 120 hours of unpaid labor. Count one of false imprisonment will lie on file.

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