'˜Not fit for human habitation': Eight on trial from Bradford care home where dementia sufferer '˜lived in filth'

EIGHT workers from a Bradford care home - from the owner to the cleaner - are accused of the 'systemic, deliberate neglect' of an elderly and vulnerable man left living in 'abject squalor and filth', a jury heard.

Stephen Pelkowski, 51, the manager of Highdell care home. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

Highdell Nursing Home in Bradford’s Idle district, was described at the city’s Crown Court as a “care home in chaos” where 79-year-old dementia sufferer Edward Hinnells lived in a room “not fit for human habitation”.

A jury heard the staff are charged with the “systemic” wilful neglect of Mr Hinnells, who was left unwashed in soiled clothing in a room full of cigarette smoke, urine and faeces, with dirty walls and floor and no bedding.

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Stephen Wood, prosecuting, told the court Mr Hinnells could be abusive and violent and was “difficult to manage”.

Highdell care home in Bradford. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

He said: “However, this could never justify the conditions of abject squalor and filth he was left in by the defendants, who variously had responsibility for his care.”

He added: “Mr Hinnells’s personal hygiene needs were plainly neglected and he resided in a room that was, frankly, not fit for human habitation.”

Mr Wood said each of the defendants had a responsibility and duty to care for Mr Hinnells.

He told the jury: “Mr Hinnells and his room did not get into the state they were overnight.

Highdell care home in Bradford. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

“This was systemic, deliberate neglect by those who were charged with the care of a vulnerable, elderly and, let us not forget, very ill man.

“Everyone in the dock failed him.”

Some staff members told police they were not aware of safeguards put in place to help Mr Hinnells, there was a lack of training and the home was in need of investment, the court heard.

Mr Wood said: “The evidence and the answers given by various defendants to police in interviews gives the very real impression of a care home in chaos.”

The court heard Mr Hinnells moved to the care home in February 2013.

In December that year, a number of people, including family members and the police, visited Mr Hinnells in his room.

Mr Wood said Mr Hinnells’s granddaughter was “shocked and upset” by what she saw, while police officers described the “utterly appalling condition of the room and Mr Hinnells”.

Mr Wood said: “The officers, neither of whom had seen a room in a care home as filthy, describe themselves as upset and sickened by what they saw.”

The visitors said the room smelled of cigarette smoke, urine and faeces, the walls were dirty, the floor was sticky and there were cigarette burns on floor, the court heard.

The jury was told a chair was covered in dry faeces and cigarette burns, the bed was broken and had no bedding and a stained mattress and wardrobes were not secured to the wall.

A “filthy and encrusted” urine bottle stood on a dirty table next to a cup of tea, while there was a bowl full of urine and faeces under the table, Mr Wood said.

The visitors said Mr Hinnells wore clothing that was dirty and soaked in urine, his hands and face were dirty, he had strong body odour and his clothes bore marks of cigarette burns, the court heard.

They also said Mr Hinnells was left with cigarettes and a lighter to smoke unsupervised in his room, where no smoke detector appeared to be present, the jury was told.

Mr Wood said Wendy Selby, the manager of another care home, saw Mr Hinnells smoke six cigarettes in succession during her visit and said he was unaware when his cigarette had finished and was burning his fingers. He also appeared unable to put out a cigarette properly.

A physical examination of Mr Hinnells revealed open sores in his groin area and that his feet were in a “shocking state”, the court heard.

Mr Wood said safeguards were put in place to ensure staff could tend to Mr Hinnells’s needs and could lawfully use restraining techniques to clean him if he refused help.

When interviewed by police, some defendants said they were not aware these safeguards were in place and said that training was not provided, the court heard.

All described Mr Hinnells’s “challenging” behaviour to police and denied neglecting him, the jury was told.

Stephen Pelkowski, 51, the manager of Highdell, from Addingham; Jennifer Cross, 60, a senior care assistant from Idle, Bradford; Phillippa Robinson, 57, a senior nurse and registered mental health nurse from Shipley; Nicki Kassama, 30, a carer from Shipley; Valerie James, 58, a senior carer from Eccleshill, Bradford; Desmond Crowley, 59, a staff nurse and registered mental health nurse from Daisy Hill, Bradford; Gerard McDermott, 58, a registered mental health nurse from Ilkley; and Piotr Czajkowski, 49, a cleaner from Ravenscliffe, Bradford, all deny one count of wilful neglect of a person who lacks capacity.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.