Carers suspended over dementia doll ‘torture’

Doll in a tumble dryer
Doll in a tumble dryer Photo: MEN syndication

A care home in Rochdale has suspended two workers following claims they were taunting dementia patients by ‘torturing’ dolls used to comfort them.

A video taken at Ashbourne House nursing home in Middleton appears to show a member of staff throwing a doll to the floor while shouting ‘die baby, die!’ In the video a colleague of the female staff member asks her: “How do you feel that you’ve just done that? How do you feel?”

Doll in a cooking pot
Doll in a cooking pot Credit: MEN Syndication

The woman can be heard loudly laughing, then responding: “Great, because [resident’s name] is upset.”

Pictures also appear to show dolls being strung up by the neck and put into a tumble dryer. The Manchester Evening News report that it’s believed the pictures and video were shared by some staff on WhatsApp.

Doll being pulled along the floor
Doll being pulled along the floor Credit: MEN Syndication

Doll therapy is increasingly used with dementia patients to easy anxiety and engage with loved ones.

Ashbourne House, run by Silverdale Care Homes, accommodates up to 29 people over 65 who need nursing or personal care – including residents with dementia and learning disabilities. Bosses say they are stunned by footage and took ‘on-the-spot’ action within hours of being made aware of the footag

Two members of staff have been suspended pending an investigation. The home has reported the incident to the police and says it is now consulting employment lawyers.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed a complaint had been made. Care Quality Commission chiefs have been informed – and the matter has been passed on to the Health and Care Professions Council and the Disclosure and Barring Service.


“We take this very, very seriously. People like this should not be working in the care industry.

“We have taken immediate action and the appropriate authorities have been informed. We will ensure the people involved in this unfortunate incident are reported – and there will be a full investigation.

“Both members of staff have been suspended and will face disciplinary procedures.

“The welfare of our residents is our highest priority.”

– Carehome spokesperson

The families of residents involved have been informed of the suspensions and told about action bosses intend to take.

The home was told to make improvements following a Care Quality Commission inspection in July last year, with inspectors identifying breaches of the Health and Social Care Act. Officials said some people felt there were areas of improvement for staff regarding their ‘attitude’. They said the service provided was ‘not always caring’.

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