A Nigerian living in UK, Titilayo Ajala is on trial for dereliction of duty as she and a colleague of hers were apparently found asleep after allegedly unplugging the alarms of elderly patients so that they would not be disturbed.
Titilayo Ajala and Henretta Offae are accused of falling asleep during their 9pm to 7am night-shift at Westlands care home in Olney, near Milton Keynes.
Aylesbury Crown Court was told that care home manager Salina Ballard and a colleague took the picture during an unannounced 3am check.
Ajala, 56, from Milton Keynes, and Offae, 41, from Derby, deny 19 counts of ill treatment or neglect of a person who lacks capacity, between January 1, 2011 and August 19, 2011.
The prosecution alleges the defendants left their patients – aged from 75 years to 100 years – unable to call for help.
The prosecution told the jury the pair disabled alarms and put extra incontinence pads on the residents, so they could sleep and would not have to change their soiled garments.
No paperwork was filled out, which they were required to do in a night log, the jury was told.
The care home assistants were allegedly discovered fast asleep in lounge armchairs on August 19 with a fan heater running by their care home manager Salina Ballard.
The home, run by St Andrews Care Home Ltd, charges £580 pounds per week per patient.
Mr. Moore told the hearing that mats were placed at the side of the residents’ beds which would set off an alarm if they fell.
However, the prosecution says 11 of the mats had been disabled so if the residents had fallen in the night, no alarm would have sounded.
Prosecutor Neil Moore told the jury: ‘The prosecution case, in a nutshell, is that when they worked together during [their shifts] they would disable alarm systems, which would otherwise alert them if one of these elderly residents fell out of their beds
‘They would pad the residents up with extra incontinence pads or place waterproof sheets on the bed so they didn’t need to be changed.
‘Basically, the two defendants would then tuck themselves up in warm clothing in front of a television in one of the lounges and have a night’s sleep.
‘Therefore, the prosecution says, putting the welfare of the elderly residents at risk.’
The 17th Century building caters for high risk elderly people who suffer from dementia or are unable to look after themselves.
The trial heard today that the carers were allowed a 45-minute break, but not at the same time.
Mr. Moore said it was considered ‘gross misconduct’ if they slept.
Offae, who was known by the name Mapel Mensah, of St Chad’s Road, Derby, worked at the home from October 24, 2010, and Ajala, of Fishermead, Milton Keynes, joined on August 9, 2009.
Mr. Moore said after Mrs. Ballard and Ms May arrived at the home, they took it in turns to check on the residents, before taking a picture of the two defendants half an hour later.
The prosecutor told the court that when Ms Ajala woke up she said ‘My God Salina, what are you doing here?’
He added: ‘Mrs. Ballard replied by telling her she had been watching her sleep for half an hour and informed her some of the fall pads had been unplugged.
‘Mrs. Ajala said: “Salina, Barbara, you have to forgive me.”
‘Ms Offae said: “I hold my hands up, you caught me. What we have done is inexcusable”. They had been caught red-handed and Mrs. Offae at that time accepted it.’
Both were dismissed from their jobs that day and were later arrested by police. Both women denied the allegations when they were quizzed by detectives.
Mr. Moore said: ‘They neglected each and every resident. They went to sleep, 11 pressure mat alarms had been disabled so if any of these had fallen in the night they wouldn’t have been found until the defendants decided to wake up.
‘None of the residents had the more absorbent night pads on, they hadn’t been changed since the afternoon shift and not at midnight when they should have been.
‘Some of residents were fitted with two incontinence pads which should never have been the case. Some had pads shoved underneath them.
‘Pads were soaked with urine and in one case faeces.’
Giving evidence Mrs. Ballard said sleeping on the job was ‘absolutely forbidden.’
She said: ‘It amounts to gross misconduct. We’re responsible for our residents’ well-being. They (the defendants) were there to do a job to protect them (the residents).’
Mrs. Ballard refuted suggestions by the defence barristers that the defendants were not asleep and were dozing or ‘resting their eyes’ during a break.
‘They were asleep,’ she said. ‘I was standing there for half an hour and I took a photo. I stood watching them sleeping.’
The four-day trial before Judge Francis Sheridan continues.