The Independent London Newspaper
24th May 2017

Ash Court abuse leads to calls for public inquiry into care watchdog

    Maria Worroll
    Maria Worroll, is pulled up by staff
    Maria Worroll being slapped by Jonathan Aquino

    Pictured from top: Maria Worroll, who suffered abuse at Ash Court; the 81-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer being pulled up by staff; Jonathan Aquino caught slapping Ms Worroll

    Published: 26 April, 2012
    by TOM FOOT

    A CARE home scandal has triggered calls for a public inquiry into the industry and its regulator, the Care Quality Commission.

    Relatives of families who have stayed in Ash Court Care Centre, Kentish Town, warned that the treatment of Maria Worroll may not have been an isolated incident, as has been claimed.

    The 81-year-old Alzheimer’s sufferer was slapped and yanked about by care worker Jonathan Aquino, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison at a hearing in Black­friars Crown Court earlier this month.

    The disturbing scenes were captured on a secret camera concealed in a fake clock by Ms Worroll’s family. The abuse – reported in last week’s New Journal – was broadcast to the nation in a BBC Panorama special on Monday night.

    Four other nurses have also been dismissed by the care home’s private operators, Forest Healthcare Ltd.
    Christine Spence, from Parliament Hill, whose mother was a resident at Ash Court, said: “Surely, ultimate responsibility must be with the management and the ownership. I fear this will be ignored. There should be a full investigation of Ash Court.”

    She added: “There is no place in a civilised society for care homes for the elderly and vulnerable run by those looking primarily for large management salaries and large profits. There is always a temptation to cut corners, especially where the ‘clients’ have no voice at all. Most care homes are funded by the state with money doled out without any real checks on the quality of the care provided.”

    Camden Council accounts show that the Town Hall paid Forest more than £1.6million a year, including £140,000 in the month of the attack. The payments are made to firms who meet standards and pass inspections from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

    John Worroll, Maria’s son, said the family had chosen Ash Court based on its “good write-up” – the CQC had rated it excellent and given it three stars, the highest mark available by the care watchdog. The CQC later said it could not be expected to spot abuse, “which often takes place behind closed doors”.

    The CQC said they should not be criticised for failing to protect people from harm because inspections were “very visible – it is therefore highly unlikely that a member of staff would carry out a criminal act in front of an inspector”.

    Yet despite this, following an inspection of Ash Court in October last year, the CQC stated that the home was “caring for people safely and protecting them from harm”, and that “Ash Court ensures people who use the service are protected from abuse, or risk of abuse, and their rights are respected and upheld”.

    But Somers Town resident Lucy Mangalone, 81, whose husband Peter, 91 – they were married for 61 years – died in the home in March, said: “We do need an investigation, a proper inquiry.

    “After seeing that footage there are many questions. I mean, how come no one heard that woman calling out? Why wasn’t it picked up?”

    Two other families connected to Ash Court contacted the New Journal backing calls for an inquiry but choosing to remain anonymous.

    One former “client” praised the service he received during his stay there.

    A Camden Council spokeswoman said: “Following the incident at Ash Court a full investigation was carried out, in conjunction with the police and the care home provider, which resulted in a prosecution.

    “We encourage anyone who wants to raise safeguarding concerns to contact our adult social care team on 020 7974 4000 or Camden police community safety team on 020 8733 5665.”

    See Letters


    Choosing a Care Home

    I have just started a blog to help people choose a care home.
    It can be a very difficult decision - how do you pick if you can't trust the inspection report?

    Ash Court

    The maltreatment of older people in care homes is disgraceful and should never be tolerated. Unfortunately stories like this are all too common and expose the challenges the authorities (including the regulator) face in keeping older people safe from harm. One strategy that could be adopted by the friends and relatives of older people living in care homes is to help them switch to homes that provide decent services that treat people with dignity and respect. If we all did this, the poor homes would soon go out of business and the quality homes would flourish.

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