Care home staff suspended over claims of abuse of Down Syndrome son (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Care home staff suspended over claims of abuse of Down Syndrome son
Two staff members have been suspended as police investigate allegations that a Bradford teenager with Down Syndrome has suffered a catalogue of physical abuse at a care home.
The probe was started after other members of staff reported their concerns about the treatment of Thomas Rawnsley, 18, at Norcott House in Liversedge.
Norcott House is described as an independent-living unit, run by Yeadon-based Woodleigh Care.
Thomas’s mother Paula Rawnsley, of Wibsey, said: “I got a phone call from the home’s head office saying two staff had been suspended because two other staff had blown the whistle saying what was happening to Thomas.
“Apparently it’s been going on for a couple of months but they’d reported it after a particularly horrific shift.”
She said it had been alleged Thomas had been locked in his room, kicked, had his fingers bent back had his chest sat and been pinned down.
Mrs Rawnsley said since her son went to live in the bungalow-type accommodation in March last year she had raised concerns about his care and had previously demanded answers why he had suffered marks and scratches.
She said: “Thomas does have challenging behaviour because of his complex needs and he is on anti-psychotic drugs to keep him calm but there are proper ways to restrain him – this was plain abuse. He had marks where he shouldn’t.”
She said a doctor at Kirklees mental health has since assessed Thomas and recommended to social services he be moved to Lynfield Mount Hospital in Bradford which deals with patients with learning difficulties.
Mrs Rawnsley said: “I know there have been serious issues at Norcott House but it is being acted on now – and it is still his home. I don’t want him to go to Lynfield Mount.
“They will not be able to manage him. I'm scared they will just control him with medication. I feel Thomas is being moved from pillar to post by the very people who are supposed to be helping him. He has been let down.”
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman confirmed it had received an allegation of assault on a male at a care home in Kirklees and its inquiry, which involved partner agencies, was at an early stage Adrian Clarke, a director of Woodleigh Care, said two of its staff were immediately suspended in accordance with company policy and that all appropriate external agencies together with the service user’s family were notified.
“As this is subject to a police investigation we are unable to comment further other than to confirm that Woodleigh Care operates a zero tolerance policy towards any form of inappropriate actions by staff towards those entrusted in our care.”
A spokesman for Bradford District Care Trust said it could not comment on individual cases because of confidentiality but stressed that Lynfield Mount did have a specialist in-patient unit for assessment of people with learning disabiities and challenging behaviour.
Dr Wendy Uttley, of Bradford’s Down Syndrome Training and Support Group, said there was a definite need for more training in the care industry.
“More training is needed in the care of people with Down Syndrome, there’s a stigma around them but they are the same as any other human being and with that they deserve the same respect.”
Nikki Bapti, of Bradford & District Autistic Support Group, said abuse by carers was “absolutely shocking”.
She said: “Autistic people can desensitise themselves which makes any abuse against them even more horrific. They could be kicked and just think it’s just routine.”