A “cruel” and “spiteful” home care worker has been sentenced to jail after leaving an elderly woman with dementia lying on the ground for two days.
The 87-year-old victim was treated for hypothermia after her granddaughter found her “shaking and cold” on the bedroom floor of her home in Normanton, West Yorkshire, with just a folded up slipper left for her to use as a pillow.
A court heard that the woman “could have died” because of the actions of the care worker Lena Hakurotwi in December 2017.
Hakurotwi, who was working for Birmingham-based Nationwide Care Services at the time of the offence, pleaded guilty to one count of wilful neglect on an individual.
She was sentenced at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court to 26 weeks in jail and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. She was also suspended for a year and told she must pay £85 costs and £115 victim surcharge.
Hakurotwi admitted she “just panicked” and failed to let her employer know that should could not move her client into bed.
She said on two subsequent visits she ensured she had food, liquids and was made comfortable.
But District Judge Andrew Meachin ruled that her actions were extremely serious.
He said: “A vulnerable person has been extremely badly let down. She was suffering hypothermia and if the situation carried on she could have died.
“It did not, thankfully, as the granddaughter arrived and called 999 which is what you should have done two days earlier. What you did not do was ask for help and you should have done.
“I am satisfied your employers should have done a lot more before letting you out on your own. They gave you a free rein without the proper training.”
Responding, Nationwide Care Services insisted the company’s staff had spilt “blood, sweat and tears” to ensure they reached high standards.
Peter Bettany, prosecuting, said Hakurotwi began working for Nationwide in September 2017.
He said she had received five days of training before shadowing a more experienced colleague for 20 hours and being allowed to go on her own home visits.
Bettany said in December of that year “it became apparent something was very wrong with a particular lady under her care”.
He said: “She was to be visited three times a day but on December 10 the client’s granddaughter went to the address and found her lying on her bedroom floor between the bed and a wardrobe. She had a folded slipped as a pillow.
“She called 999. She was shaking, a paramedic arrived and said she was borderline hypothermia.”
The victim’s daughter told the court it was “intentionally cruel” that her mother was left overnight on the cold floor.
In a statement, she said: “I am relieved that it’s all over and that there has been at least some accountability for the awful treatment of my mother.
“How the carer could have left my mum in that situation for so long fills me with rage.
“As far as the suspended sentence goes, I still can’t imagine that many people would need much training to seek assistance for a frail elderly person who has clearly fallen on to the floor.
“A five-year-old would have called 999. To visit three times and not seek help, leaving food out of reach, is intentionally cruel and spiteful in my eyes, trained or not.
“Why didn’t she at least give mum a blanket?
“I have no doubt in my mind that if she had left my mother on the floor for a second night she would most certainly have died there.
Hamait Ali, a director at Birmingham-based Nationwide Care Services, said 18 months ago it was reported how its service in Derby was rated as “Inadequate” but since that time it has passed Care Quality Commission inspections which now show the provider rated as “Good”.
He said: “I don’t accept the judge’s criticism of our service and training at all.
“I don’t understand what the judge has said here because as a result of this case we passed both CQC and police scrutiny and we are now recognised as a good provider.
“We provide full training and assisted coaching in the community and if that is deemed by the judge to be inadequate then there is a problem with every single care provider in the UK.
“We have spent more than £150,000 and staff have spilled blood, sweat and tears to make us a good provider.”