THE former owner and manager of a Halifax nursing home where four vulnerable residents were the victims of deliberate neglect have been jailed for a year each.
Structural engineer Philip Bentley and Faheza Simpson, an experienced nurse, were sentenced over their lack of care for elderly residents who developed pressure sores while at staying at the Elm View home in 2011.
Widower Bentley, 65, of Woodthorpe Drive, Wakefield, and married mother Simpson, 49, of Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth, were found guilty last week after a jury at Bradford Crown Court heard weeks of evidence about under-staffing and a lack of resources at the home. Bentley was convicted on three neglect charges relating to three women aged 78, 81 and 85. Simpson was found guilty on those charges and a further neglect offence relating to a 68-year-old man who developed a serious pressure sore after being at the home for a week’s respite care.
An investigation into what prosecutors described as a “very distressing case” was launched in October 2011 after police and NHS nurses went into the home and found one elderly woman lying in a urine-soaked bed.
Judge Jonathan Rose yesterday branded the home’s manager Simpson a liar and bully and said Bentley had put saving money over the welfare of elderly and vulnerable patients.
Jailing the pair, Judge Rose highlighted fundamental failures at the home including inadequate record-keeping, insufficient cleaning materials, a lack of regular turning and toileting for at-risk residents and the provision of vital equipment such as pressure-relieving mattresses.
A lack of basic materials such as wipes meant that staff used the residents’ own underwear to clean them and one woman was left wearing the same incontinence pad for 13 hours.
Judge Rose said the home was woefully understaffed as a result of Simpson’s bullying manner which drove staff away and Bentley’s failure to recruit adequate replacements in the hope that his manager could cope.
He told Bentley: “I am satisfied that she could not and you knew that she could not and you knew that your residents would suffer as a consequence. Your motive for this is not entirely clear but I suspect financial reasons were a principle driving force.
“You, Philip Bentley would not spend the money needed to run this home properly. You put the saving of money, perhaps your profit, over the welfare of elderly and vulnerable patients. That is simply unforgivable and itself worthy of punishment.”
The judge said Bentley and his late wife had bought Elm View as a business proposition, but he suspected that by 2011 Bentley’s had lost interest in it.
Simpson’s barrister Michelle Colborne QC said her client’s lack of emotion when the verdicts were returned last week was a result of her “abject shock” because she believed she had been doing her best for the residents.
Bentley’s barrister Sam Green said the court process had taken a huge toll on his client, whose wife died from a stroke last year shortly after receiving a summons herself.
Elizabeth Wright, reviewing lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “This was a very distressing case involving the wilful neglect of vulnerable, elderly residents.
“These elderly people were entirely dependent on those entrusted with their care. Neglect is a difficult charge to prove, as it involves a state of continuing inaction, rather than a clear incident of abuse.
“However, after a careful analysis of the evidence, we judged that we had a strong enough case to meet the test set out in the code for Crown Prosecutors, and to put before a court.”