Yorkshire care home is accused of 'inhuman' treatment of woman with dementia

A judge said a trial is needed to determine whether a York care home subjected an elderly woman with dementia to “inhuman or degrading treatment”.

Elsie Casey, 94, died while suffering from pneumonia in 2017, after spending four-and-a-half years at Stamford Bridge Beaumont Care Home, which is run by Barchester Healthcare Homes Limited.

Her close friend Susan Milner has taken legal action against the care home and is now seeking damages, claiming it breached Articles 2 and 3 of the Human Rights Act.

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She claimed Mrs Casey was “often left thirsty and hungry”, isolated from other residents, “left in a soiled state for prolonged periods” as she was unable to access the bathroom on numerous occasions and often found in an “unkempt and unhygienic state”.

Stamford Bridge Beaumont Care Home in YorkStamford Bridge Beaumont Care Home in York
Stamford Bridge Beaumont Care Home in York

She also alleged that staff at the care home failed to manage her risk of falling and choking, and used “inappropriate methods of restraint”.

Ms Milner claimed the treatment of her friend “went against basic standards of decency and humanity” and the care she received “put her very life at risk and contributed to her decline”.

None of the allegations have been proved.

High Court judge Master Davison decided to strike out the claim that Article 2, which protects the “right to life”, was breached but said the alleged violation of Article 3, which prohibits “inhuman or degrading treatment”, needs further consideration.

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The care home owner said the case had been “properly characterised as one of neglect” but it “fell substantially short of the threshold for inhuman or degrading treatment”, during a hearing last month.

But in a ruling, the judge wrote: “The conclusion that I have reached is that whether the Article 3 threshold has been met in this case is a matter for trial.

“I acknowledge that the threshold is high. I acknowledge also that a court might take the view that the matters complained of in fact amount to no more than substandard care and fall short, perhaps well short, of that threshold.

“But these are matters of fact and degree that I cannot resolve a) on paper and b) without the full picture of evidence that would emerge at trial.”

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The judge also said he has “no reason to question” the statements provided by the claimant, who said she had been named as Mrs Casey’s next of kin.

Barchester Healthcare Homes Limited said it was unable to comment on the unproven allegations, due to the ongoing legal proceedings.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the care home ‘inadequate’ and placed it in special measures following an inspection which was carried out in September 2017, shortly before Mrs Casey’s death.

Inspectors identified “multiple failings” and found that two residents had not had a shower or bath for more than a year.

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Humberside Police was also called in the conduct an investigation after a whistleblower raised concerns about a “serious safeguarding incident”.

However, the home received a ‘good’ rating following its most recent inspection in September 2018.

In a report, the CQC wrote: “Overall there had been significant progress and improvement made throughout the service."