A carer has been cleared of assaulting a 94-year-old dementia sufferer at a crisis-hit nursing home in Aberdeen.
Clare Raffan had been on trial at the city’s sheriff court yesterday accused of slapping frail Catherine MacMillan when she worked at the Beach Court Nursing Home.
Giving evidence , two former colleagues, Deborah Warman and Cheryl Phipps, claimed Ms Raffan had hit the blind pensioner and forcibly restrained her hands to her body, leaving the woman screaming out in pain.
However, Sheriff Kevin Veal took only seconds to decide the Crown had failed to prove its case against her and returned a not proven verdict.
Speaking afterwards, a tearful Ms Raffan, who has worked as a carer for more than 15 years, said the accusations had made her doubt her ability to do her job.
And the mum-of-two said she hoped the care provider, Four Seasons Group, was held accountable for the terrible state of the home and the poor standard of care the residents received.
Beach Court closed last year after inspectors raised a protection order for one resident.
Five staff were suspended after officials discovered residents had been mistreated, dehumanised and left hungry and thirsty.
During the trial, the court heard the original accusation against Raffan had been made in June, 2013, when Miss Warman, a nursing student, made an official complaint to the home manager.
She told the court she had placed a handwritten statement under the office door and nothing was mentioned about the alleged abuse again.
In August the same year, Mrs Phipps also made a handwritten complaint against Ms Raffan and gave it to the general manager.
The allegations did not surface again until January last year when state nurse Sylvia Nicol – who had been called in to take over the running of the home – was telling staff it was about to close.
The court heard that at the time of the alleged incidents, Beach Court had about 35 residents and was described as being “permanently short staffed”.
In her evidence Ms Raffan said she was constantly making complaints to the management after she witnessed staff leaving patients lying in their own faeces and urine.
She told the court that despite the complaints nothing was ever done. She added: “It was horrible. I have never seen a place like it before.”
Mrs Phipps also told the court that after her experience at the home she would never work as a carer again.
Ms Nicol, who was called in to try to salvage the “fairly damaged institution”, also gave evidence yesterday.
She said: “The home was in crisis and I was asked to go in and assist with the management of the home.
“It was more the care that was the concern and that had been raised by the local authority and the safe guarding teams.”
Ms Nicol said it had been the responsibility of the general manager to make the relative authorities aware of any complaints which may have been made about the safeguarding of the residents.
However she said no complaints had been officially lodged until she had taken over the running of the home and it was about to close its doors.
Ms Raffan, of 91 Powis Crescent, Aberdeen, admitted that on a couple of occasions, if Mrs MacMillan was lashing out, she would raise her arm in front of her face to protect herself.
But she told the court she had never used physical violence against any of her patients and said her accusers had made up the allegations as they did not like the fact she had a more senior position.
She said: “Whenever I did my job I did it to the best of my ability. I treated them with the respect and empathy they deserve because that’s how I was trained and that’s what I believe.”