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CARE HOME ABUSE PROBE; EXCLUSIVE New owner reports 'cruelty' to residents.

Byline: By LUKE TRAYNOR

A MERSEYSIDE care home is at the centre of a major probe into serious abuse of elderly residents.

The Dales in West Kirby is being investigated after allegations that pensioners were mistreated.

The shocking concerns came to light when its new owner bought the premises in Marine Park just over a week ago.

At least 12 members of staff have since walked out of their jobs and The Commission for Social Care Inspection has been informed.

The allegations include:

Cruel tricks such as cups of tea being hidden from residents

Pensioners ordered to wash and dry the dishes

Residents being fed in an unduly" restrictive" way

Residents not being taken to the toilet and then wetting themselves

Doctors not being called to the home despite repeated requests from residents

A dossier of the alleged incidents, which are said to have happened over the past 18 months, is being compiled and Merseyside police will be informed.

Wirral council is leading an inquiry, along with other agencies, to establish the nature of the alleged abuse.

The home offers residential care to the 19 elderly people living there.

A source close to a former member of staff said: "It was an intimidating environment. Some families are paying pounds 500 a week so their parents are looked after and this is the way they're treated."

Solicitor Paul Dumbleton, who represents new owner Kate Armstrong, said she had learned of the complaints days after buying the home and alerted the authorities.

Letters were being sent to former staff ordering them to not harass the new administration.

Police were called to The Dales last week after reports of a flashpoint when former staff members were ordered to leave the area.

Inspectors from the Commission for Social Care Inspection have visited the home to talk to residents.

One was said to be in tears as she recounted some of her alleged traumatic experiences at the hands of staff.

A spokesman for the commission said: "We are aware that concerns have been expressed about standards of care at the home and we are taking this very seriously."

Officials from the Protection Of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) scheme have been informed.

A police spokesman said an adult referral had been made to them about the allegations, and they were waiting for results of inquiries before deciding whether a criminal investigation was needed.

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INVESTIGATION: The Dales care home
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 3, 2007
Words:403
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