Two caregivers have been suspended after video footage emerged in which they taunted dementia patients by torturing their “comfort dolls.”
Officials at the Ashbourne House Nursing Home in Middleton, Greater Manchester, England, have launched an investigation after employees allegedly ridiculed several residents with dementia by appearing to torment their comfort dolls.
According to Alzheimers.net, doll therapy can be used to ease feelings of distress in patients with dementia and similar degenerative disorders. Doll therapy has been shown to increase positive behaviors while decreasing negative behaviors and incidences of aggression.
Relatives of residents engaged in doll therapy at the home reported that the treatment had worked wonders, according to Manchester Evening News. Families of the residents have been informed about the incidents and the actions that management intend to take.
“Care workers are in a position of unique trust, and patients and their families should be able to have total confidence that they will be cared for properly and treated with respect,” stated Heywood and Middleton MP, Liz McInnes. “If these claims are true, there has been a gross breach of trust and the perpetrators deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law.”
In the video, a staff member, who has been identified as Shauna-Leigh Higgin, throws a doll on the floor near a resident while screaming, “Die baby, die!” A colleague asks her, “How do you feel that you’ve just done that? How do you feel?” Higgin replies, “Great, because [resident's name] is upset.”
Photos of the dolls, which were reportedly shared through WhatsApp, show dolls in numerous distressing situations. In various images, the dolls were allegedly put inside a clothes dryer, boiled in a pot on the stove, and submerged underwater, among other scenarios.
Officials with the Care Quality Commission have been alerted to the situation, as well as the Health and Care Professions Council and the Disclosure and Barring Service.
The two employees have been suspended pending further investigation.
“We take this very, very seriously,” stated a spokesperson for the residential facility. “People like this should not be working in the care industry.”