Ballet trips and holidays paid for by patients who could not enjoy them

A blind care home manager who got an unconscious patient to pay for a care home outing to the ballet has been thrown out of the profession

The woman was dying of cancer and had to have her head propped up with a cardigan and a handbag during dance spectacular.

Gillian Capner helped herself to more than £10,000 patients to fund holidays and pay the expenses of staff.

Some of her dupes were seriously mentally ill and were incapable of deciding whether they actually wanted to go on any of the trips.

The cancer victim was in the last few days of her life and was happy to be left in her room.

But Capner insisted she went on the trip as a final ‘tribute’ to her, even though she would see or hear none of the show.

She even bought the woman a £500 dress – but the last few words the woman said before she was bussed off to the theatre were ‘I smell.’

Capner covered up the cash withdrawals – then told a senior carer to lie to the police.

The manager had control of residents’ money at the Westwood Court Care Home in Winsford, Cheshire and withdrew the cash depending on which one had the most in the account.

Ward sister Kate Bithell described how hundreds of pounds of residents’ money would be handed to a carer and they were told it was for ‘spending money.’

‘One of the residents would be chosen to pay for the staff,’ said Ms Bithell.

‘Usually the one with the most money. It was used for food and drink and any other expenses for the staff,’ she added.

‘I went on holiday with several residents the year before and their money was used to pay for our expenses.

‘They would give me residents’ money and that would be for me and them.’

‘They would hand it to me and say get your dinner out of that.’

The hearing was told that two other patients, who both suffered from
schizophrenia, had a combined total of £6,950 taken from their accounts.

Ms Bithell told the hearing: ‘One resident had breast cancer and at the end of her life.

‘She was bedbound, frail and could not communicate.’

‘She had no reason to spend a lot of money.’

Capner took £2,300 from her account between September 2012 and April 2013.

The only things the patient needed were toiletries they usually bought from ASDA, said Ms Bithell.

The same dying woman financed a trip to the ballet in Manchester even though she was unconscious throughout the performance.

Ms Bithell said: ‘We took them by minibus all the way to Manchester.

On the trip they went for dinner at Pizza Express and had a McFlurry from McDonalds, the hearing was told.

The patient, who had been bedbound for 12 months, was so frail that six nurses at the home said she should not go.

‘I had to hold her head up with my handbag and cardigan she was so slumped over,’ said Ms Bithell.

‘She was too ill to attend the ballet and I told her Capner that,’ said Ms Bithell.

Ms Bithell told the hearing that the resident had whispered ‘I smell’ to her as they were preparing to leave.

‘I would have never taken her, she was just too poorly,’ she said.

‘She was happy to in bed in her room.’

‘She never asked for money and she wasn’t able to communicate that she needed money she was so ill.

The NMC panel found that even though the woman could not speak she might have wanted to go to the ballet so misconduct in relation to the trip was not found proved.

It was accepted that the unconscious patient went to the show – and she paid for it.

They did however find that Capner’s purchase of the dress was unnecessary.

It was also claimed Capner used three vulnerable patients’ own money to pay
£1,650 for a hoist for the home when it should have been paid for by Leyton Healthcare who ran the home.

This again could not be proved, as the panel could not be sure exactly which residents’ money had been used to pay for the hoist.

NMC panel chair Brian Yates said: ‘Ms Capner abused her position.

‘Her conduct showed complete disregard to her employers.

‘She abused the trust of a junior colleague by asking her to lie to the police.

‘She was given the opportunity to show remorse but she chose not to.

‘As the home manager, her behaviour on multiple occasions went against her job as a nurse and her employer.

‘She has shown no recognition of the serious of her actions.’

It was found proved that Capner did not record the withdrawals, and unnecessarily bought the dying woman a £500 dress.

The NMC panel did not have any evidence before it to prove that the trip was against the resident’s wishes and could not be sure which residents had paid for the hoist.

Her assistant, Malcolm Short was suspended for 12 months for not recording the cash withdrawals.

Neither Capner nor Short were present at the hearing and denied all charges.