Colinton care home workers found guilty of assaulting dementia patient

Two employees of an Edinburgh care home have been found guilty of assaulting an 89-year-old female patient by throwing balls of tinfoil at her.

Tuesday, 30th August 2016, 9:18 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th August 2016, 10:24 am
The incident took place at the Colinton Care Home. Picture; Toby Williams

The pair were placed on a nine-month community payback order and told to carry out unpaid work after being found guilty of assaulting the woman in the Colinton Care Home.

Margaret Lowrie, 61, of Watson Crescent, and Geraldine San Diego, 44, of Handyside Place, both lost their jobs following the incident at the Spylaw Road care home between January and May last year.

Lowrie was also found guilty of assaulting an 83-year-old male by prodding him with a metal rod.

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Lowrie was a care assistant at the home, which caters for elderly severe dementia patients, and San Diego was a staff nurse.

Neither had previous convictions.

Sentence was deferred until yesterday for background reports.

Other members of staff told Sheriff Gail Patrick that in the dining room San Diego rolled up balls of the food covering and gave it to Lowrie, who then threw it at the 89-year-old woman.

Care assistant Lyndsey Cowan said this happened three or four times and on one occasion the tinfoil ball landed in the woman’s soup and went “all over her”.

Another assistant, Jane Sked, said that as Lowrie threw the tinfoil, San Diego was “jeering”.

“They thought it was funny,” she said.

Care home manager Gordon Philps told the court that he was approached by a member of staff who was “extremely upset and emotional”.

He said: “They were telling me there were certain things going on which should not have happened.”

Mr Philps said the person spoke of “the fear and trepidation in the home of these particular people. Something I had never experienced before among any member of staff”.

Lowrie, he added, was always complaining about others.

Defence solicitor Vincent Belmonte asked Mr Philps if Lowrie had complained about Ms Cowan.

“She might have done, but I can’t recall “ he replied. 
“Margaret made lots of complaints. There was a particular culture on that floor with some fairly dominant characters”.

Both Lowrie and San Diego denied the accusations against them. Lowrie described the 83-year old man as “a very, very funny man”. “He thought he was in a pub,” she said and the claim that she had prodded him never happened.

It was claimed that Ms Cowan and Ms Sked were conducting a vendetta against them.

Their lawyers said both still maintained their innocence.

Sheriff Patrick told the women it had been unacceptable behaviour and a serious breach of trust.

She ordered Lowrie to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and San Diego 80 hours.