Hundreds of social care residents allegedly sexually assaulted, watchdog reveals

Shaun Lintern
A total of 899 incidents of alleged sexual assault were reported to the Care Quality Commission in just three months in 2018: Getty Images

Hundreds of elderly and vulnerable social care residents have allegedly been sexually assaulted in just three months, a shock new report from the care regulator has revealed.

According to the Care Quality Commission there were 899 sexual incidents reported by social care homes between March and May 2018. Almost half were categorised as sexual assault.

In 16 per cent of the cases members of staff or visiting workers were accused of carrying out the abuse.

In one case a care worker targeted “the most vulnerable” people in a care home so they would not be able to speak out when she sexually abused them.

The CQC said she filmed the assaults on residents – including an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease – on her mobile phone.

The watchdog said it was notified of 47 cases of rape and told The Independent local authorities were informed and 37 cases were referred to police for investigation.

Its report detailed the suffering of an Alzheimer’s patient called “Jane” who was sexually abused in her care home.

Her family were contacted after her death when police found footage on a computer which showed her being abused, including serious sexual assault.

“The care worker had worked on her own at night, visiting people in their rooms and abusing several residents, while her colleague slept,” the authors wrote.

“It is believed she shared the footage with her boyfriend. The care worker admitted that she had specifically targeted the most vulnerable because they would not be able to complain about the assaults.”

The CQC said the woman has since been jailed.

It has published details of the incidents in an effort to raise awareness of the issue within social care and has called on leaders to create a culture where residents are protected from harm but able to be open about their own sexuality and relationships.

Out of 661 notifications of sexual incidents to the CQC 5 per cent included instances of consensual sex.

Kate Terroni, chief inspector of adult social care at the regulator, said: “Supporting people as individuals means considering all aspects of a person’s needs, including sexuality and relationships.

“However, our report also shows all too starkly the other side of this – the times when people are harmed in the very place they should be kept safe. This is utterly devastating, both for the people directly affected and their loved ones.

“It is not good enough to put this issue in a ‘too difficult to discuss’ box. It is particularly because these topics are sensitive and complex that they should not be ignored.”

Veronica Gray, deputy chief executive of Action on Elder Abuse, said: “While we endorse the CQC’s message of supporting people in expressing their sexuality whilst in care, more needs to be done to protect those most vulnerable to sexual abuse. The first priority of adult social services must be the safety and wellbeing of those in their care.”

Dr Claire Bates, founder of the Supported Loving campaign, said: “Supported Loving believes that people with learning disabilities and/or autism should be able to enjoy the same sexual freedom as everyone else.

“This human need has often been ignored in social care services, which are meant to support people to lead ordinary lives. However, we acknowledge that sexuality can be a difficult and challenging area for social care and CQC as regulators.”

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