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Carer painted whiskers on disabled resident and offered her dog biscuits

Debra Ralph
Debra Ralph Image credit:

A carer has been arrested after she drew whiskers on a disabled woman’s face and offered her dog biscuits and ‘recklessly’ driving her around.

Debra Ralph, 54, from Bolton, was assigned to look after the vulnerable resident at Agricola House in Tottington, Bury which offers one-to-one care for adults living with brain injuries.

Both incidents took place on July 10 2021 at the care home.

Ralph (pictured above) was sacked from the home within days of what judge, Tina Landale, described as “wilful abuse”.

The court heard how Ralph put the woman on her knee whilst driving backwards and forwards before she drew whiskers on her cheeks and a black dot on her nose with a pen and offered her dog biscuits.

Prosecuting, Sophie Kenny, said the colleagues were disgusted with the behaviour and told Ralph she was abusing the woman, who had a mental age of four.

Kenny said Ralph "breached her position of trust as a carer in a caring role” and it was "unmistakably inappropriate in nature".

Defending Ralph, Rachel Shenton, said the carer was not “malicious” and “didn’t want to harm anyone”.

Ms Shenton admitted it was "inappropriate and reckless behaviour on her part" but believed she had a “desire to entertain” the resident.

She compared the drawing on the woman’s face to face painting a child and the resident did not show any form of distress.

 "It was misguided and inappropriate. She was trying to entertain her and wasn't trying to conceal what she did," Shenton told the court.

She added that Ralph was “deeply and truly sorry” and she has never been in trouble with the police or the courts

Judge Landale told Ralph "On July 10 of last year you failed to care appropriately for her. She was a lady who required around the clock care and who was lacking capacity. It's hard to think of a more vulnerable victim than a person in her position.

"You wilfully abused her. You have been rightly dismissed from employment.

"After the first incident in the car park when your colleagues immediately intervened and brought to your attention that it was wrong to be treating her in that way, you went on to ill treat her again in a short space of time. These were actions which amounted to ill treatment.

"It's serious because as you know it involves a breach of trust between the patient and the carer and between the families of those loved ones who expect and require good care to provide proper treatment.

"I take into account that this was out of character and you didn't intend to cause harm. But this was reckless behaviour for which you have apologised and lost your job."

Debra Ralph handed a 12 week sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work with 20 days of rehabilitation.