A family has blasted heavy-handed police who treated an elderly Alzheimer’s sufferer like a “common criminal” after they restrained him at a care home – with HANDCUFFS.
Frail Keith Hyrons, 76, was dropped at Howbury House in Malvern, Worcs., to allow wife Val, 74, a break from being his full-time carer.
But their son Leighton, 40, was stunned when hours later the home phoned to say Keith had upset other residents and had been restrained by two police officers.
The family then rushed to the council-run respite retreat to find the grandfather-of- two in agony with his hands firmly cuffed behind his back.
The retired BT worker was left with red sores on his wrists following the distressing ordeal and has now been taken out of the home by his devastated family.
They claim Keith’s condition has now worsened due to the force’s “unnecessarily brutish” approach to their handling of the incident on September 4.
Yesterday (Fri) Val, a retired nurse, who has been married to Keith for 55 years, fumed: “It’s disgusting.
“The police treated him like a common criminal, handcuffing his hands behind his back.
“My husband has had childish tantrums in the past, but I’ve always been able to calm him down.
“We had left him in the care of professionals who are trained and paid to care for dementia patients.
“It’s terrible that he was treated like this, he must have been really frightened.
“It was just awful. There was two of them as well and just one of him, he had no family with him at the time.
“Leighton spoke to the policeman who did it on the phone after and he said they had every right to do that.
“He said to Leighton ‘we have got better things to do’.
“Their approach was unnecessarily brutish and completely uncalled for.
“Since the incident my husband has got worse, if you move towards him now he becomes agitated, as if he thinks you are going to do it again.
“That is what makes me so angry.
“I want him to come home, and hopefully I’ll be able to look after him as long as I can. ”
Val, from Kidderminster, Worcs., has now called for police to receive better training for dealing with people with dementia or mental health issues.
She added: “I haven’t got a lot of faith in the police any more. If they see a common criminal they run a mile but a 76-year-old man with Alzheimer’s they go and handcuff.
“I think they aren’t trained well enough to deal with people with dementia and similar issues.
“I don’t think I should have to demand an apology from the police but I haven’t had one or spoke to them since and I don’t expect to get one.
“I want to speak out to make people with family members in similar situations aware what can happen.”
Fitness instructor Leighton added: “Dad had been assessed by social workers in the run up to this respite, to make sure he was taken somewhere that could deal with his needs.
“When we dropped him off the place seemed nice and friendly. But just a few hours later I got a call from his social worker saying he was upsetting some of the residents.
“She assured us that she would deal with it.
“But then at 5am I received a call from the care home telling me that they had called the police to restrain my father.
“They obviously got the assessment completely wrong when it came to my father.”
Keith was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago and was taken to Howbury House care home to allow wife Val a much-needed holiday.
But he was only at the Worcestershire County Council-run centre for less than 12 hours before being cuffed by officers.
Area manager David Ash from Alzheimer’s Society, also criticised the police’s approach and accused them of “abusing” the pensioner.
He said: “Any case of abuse against a person with dementia is absolutely appalling.
“The most vulnerable people in our society should be treated with respect and dignity.
“Our care system in the UK is broken and underfunded.
“We need to have a debate on how to ensure appropriate care is in place for people with conditions such as dementia.
“We also need a regulatory system in place focused on supporting care homes to actively improve standards.
“People with dementia can sometimes exhibit extreme agitation, particularly in times of stress.
“It is vital that all staff who come into contact with people with dementia are given the skills and training to be able to spot the reasons behind these behaviours, so they can address them and hopefully reduce them.”
Yesterday West Mercia Police defended the use of handcuffs on the pensioner – who was sectioned for 28 days after the incident.
Inspector Steph Brighton said: “Officers were called to a care home in Malvern in the early hours of 4th September, due to concerns about the behaviour of a 76-year-old man who was there for respite.
“Officers were aware he had dementia and other health problems but he was being extremely aggressive and it was necessary to handcuff him to prevent him from harming himself, other residents, and staff.
“He was subsequently sectioned under the Mental Health Act and moved from the home.
“The family has not raised any issues with us.”
A spokesperson for Worcestershire County Council and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said they were unable to comment on individual cases..
But a spokesperson for the NHS Trust added: “If someone with Alzheimer’s is detained under the act then we will always ensure they are taken to the most appropriate setting where they can access the expert care and treatment they need.”