Ex-nursing home carer from Stenhousemuir subjected dementia unit residents to ‘cruel and degrading’ treatment

Jacquilyn MacKenzie was a carer at Newcarron Court nursing home. Picture: Michael Gillen
Jacquilyn MacKenzie was a carer at Newcarron Court nursing home. Picture: Michael Gillen

A “brutal” ex-army carer working in a dementia unit subjected her charges to “cruel and degrading” treatment.

Jacquilyn MacKenzie, of Stenhousemuir, told a 78-year-old man she’d take photographs after he soiled himself and send them to his cancer-stricken wife.

She assaulted a 95-year-old woman and “wilfully neglected” a sick 102-year-old by refusing to let her go to the toilet in the night.

Her actions left fellow carers at the Newcarron Court nursing home, New Carron, in tears, and they blew the whistle even though MacKenzie (63) was their line manager, Falkirk Sheriff Court was told.

Sheriff Derek Livingston praised them for their courage.

One of the whisleblowers, Rhianne Tawia, said she had asked MacKenzie for help in the middle of the night on January 17, 2018, after she found the elderly man needed assistance.

She said: “I wanted to clean his bedding and give him a good wash. I asked Jackie to assist me but she came in and called him a dirty old man, loudly and aggressively.”

Ms Tawia (22), now a student nurse, said the resident was in the home because his wife was having cancer treatment and could not cope with him, but she used to visit him every single day.

MacKenzie said she would go and fetch a camera, kept in the dementia unit for taking medical photographs of wounds, and photograph “the state he was in, to show his wife what a dirty old man he was”.

Ms Tawia said: “She was saying it like she’d do it — she wasn’t being sarcastic. She was being loud and saying how disgusting he was.

“I was completely thrown back by it.”

The old man’s face “screwed up” with embarrassment, she said.

After further incidents during another night shift nine days later, she and another carer reported MacKenzie.

She said MacKenzie left the 102-year-old woman, who had a urinary tract infection, “crying out” that she needed the toilet.

Another carer helped the old lady when MacKenzie, who was in charge of the shift, went out for a cigarette.

Later she assaulted the 95-year-old woman, who wanted to get up.

Ms Tawia said she had been asking the old lady what dress she’d like, when MacKenzie suddenly “flung open the door” of her bedroom.

She said: “She grabbed her ankles and pulled them around.

“It was quite brutal.”

The old lady “let out a scream” and said “what have I done to deserve this?”

Ms Tawia said she, the old lady, and another carer, Samantha Paterson, who had also been helping, were left in tears.

Ms Tawia told Sheriff Livingston: “I was facing the wardrobe and crying. [The resident] was very upset. We were all crying together, sir.”

Miss Paterson said: “I was gobsmacked, disgusted.

“I felt ill with it, sickened, and when I got home I couldn’t sleep.

“When I went back to work I just burst out crying and told the senior on duty ‘I have to tell you what happened’.”

After summary trial, Sheriff Livingston found MacKenzie guilty of neglecting and ill-treating old people in her care while a “relevant person” under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Scotland Act 2015, and of assault.

She denied the charges.

Gordon Addison, defending, said MacKenzie, a carer for 40 years since leaving the army, had simply been “old fashioned, perhaps schoolma’amish” in her approach, but prosecutor Katie Cunningham said her behaviour had been “degrading and cruel”.

Miss Cunningham added: “The fact that she was a very experienced carer aggravates her liability.”

Sheriff Livingston sentenced MacKenzie to carry out 90 hours of unpaid work.

He heard she had been suspended, then sacked, was now living on benefits, had been reported to the Scottish Social Services Council and would never be able to work in the sector again.

He ordered the conviction should be reported to Disclosure Scotland.

He said: “I believe the evidence given by the two Crown witnesses. They were brave and responsible in bringing this matter to the attention of the authorities.”