Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 14:43 UK

Homes warden abused elderly pair

Curran House Mews sheltered housing complex
The elderly man and woman have now left their homes

Two pensioners in a sheltered housing scheme on South Tyneside were "bullied, publicly humiliated and abused" by a council warden, a report has found.

South Tyneside Council failed to act for almost a year, despite being asked for help by the elderly man and woman, the local government ombudsman said.

The authority has accepted the report's findings and agreed to pay the neighbours 2,500 each in compensation.

The charity Action on Elder Abuse said it was "appalled" by the case.

The pair were eventually forced to leave their homes, understood to be at the Curran House Mews sheltered housing complex in Jarrow.

This was maladministration with potentially very serious consequences
Ombudsman Anne Seex

The ombudsman's report said the two residents (identified as Mr P and Mrs S) were in their 60s and neighbours in a sheltered housing scheme owned by the council and managed by South Tyneside Homes.

In 2004 they complained to the council that a female warden was restricting their use of communal facilities and verbally threatening them on a regular basis.

But the council failed to do anything to resolve the situation, which worsened when the warden's daughter also began abusing the pair, the report revealed.

The residents later supplied a tape recording of threats made by the warden's daughter, which were described as "harrowing".

'Failed miserably'

Ombudsman Anne Seex said the council's failures meant the complainants suffered "harassment and fear whilst living in what should have been a supportive environment".

She added: "Far more significant than its failure to follow its own procedures is the council's grave substantive failure to undertake any proper investigation of serious allegations about the behaviour of an employee in a position of responsibility, also its inaction in the face of very persuasive evidence of serious problems.

There should be a full and independent inquiry into exactly what the council was doing
Gary Fitzgerald, Action on Elder Abuse

"This was maladministration with potentially very serious consequences."

South Tyneside Council said it expressed regret and had instituted an internal inquiry, as well as paying the pair compensation and giving them priority for rehousing.

The warden no longer works for the authority.

Gary FitzGerald, chief executive of the charity Action on Elder Abuse said: "It is appalling that the council failed to appropriately implement its own protection policy, a situation which obviously placed these people at serious risk.

"There should be a full and independent inquiry into exactly what the council was doing in this regard and why it appears to have failed so miserably in ensuring an adequate protective response to these older people."




SEE ALSO
Older patients' rights 'abused'
14 Aug 07 |  Health
Mistreating the elderly
13 Mar 06 |  Breakfast

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific