Residents treated like 'they were on a conveyor belt'
FORMER staff recalled how the owner of a nursing home shook a bag of Cadbury's Buttons at an elderly resident to get her to go to bed.
Distraught former workers of Avondale Nursing Home in Callan, Co Killkenny, described how Miriam Holmes got a "little woman, who loved chocolate" to go to bed by tempting her with Buttons.
They also criticised HIQA for not acting sooner -- stating that they raised concerns with the authorities long before the home was shut down.
Former senior care worker, Mary Dunne, who was unfairly dismissed by Ms Holmes, according to the Employment Tribunal, said she had complained to the nursing home owner numerous times about the welfare of patients before she went to the authorities. She witnessed Ms Holmes shaking the chocolates at an elderly resident.
She also claimed that an elderly man was forced to go to bed at 5pm on a summer's evening because of staff shortages.
Ms Dunne pointed out that some staff were not using hoists and this left patients bruised from being "dragged up beds".
However, when she complained, Ms Holmes accused her of being racist towards foreign staff.
"We (the staff) were treated badly whenever we complained," she said.
Another former worker, Susan Bergin, said she "couldn't stand how the patients were being treated".
"The staff were good to the patients but Miriam Holmes treated them like they were on a conveyor belt. She had night staff dragging them out of bed at 4.40am to have the patients up and ready for the day staff because there weren't enough people on."
Meanwhile, the relative of one resident will today furnish bank statements to gardai that prove over €25,000 is missing from the man's account.
This man paid €1,200 a week for his care but the HSE refunded €400 a week in subventions to Avondale. Normally the home would post a cheque in this man's name to his family once the HSE subvention came through. But the relative said not a single cheque had been received in around 18 months before the closure of the home.
The 81-year-old is unaware that his life savings are gone.
"I didn't notice for a while that they (the cheques) had stopped. . . When I realised he hadn't received a cheque in a year and a half, I felt awful for not noticing sooner and I went to the garda station," the relative said.