Police have been accused of treating an Alzheimer’s victim like a ‘common criminal’ after using handcuffs to restrain him at a Midland care home.
Former Kidderminster Harriers footballer Keith Hyrons, 76, had been dropped off at the council-run respite retreat to allow wife Val, 74, a break from being his full-time carer.
But hours later their stunned son Leighton was told police had been called after his father ‘upset other residents’ – and he had been restrained with handcuffs.
Police have defended their handling of the ‘extremely aggressive’ pensioner, who was later sectioned for 28 days.
But angry Val, from Kidderminster, told the Mail: “It’s disgusting. The police treated him like a common criminal, handcuffing his hands behind his back.
“My husband has been aggressive towards me in the past and had childish tantrums, 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.”
Keith was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago and was taken to Howbury House care home in Malvern to allow his wife of 55 years a much-needed holiday.
But after being at the Worcester County Council-run home for less than 12 hours, his son Leighton received a phonecall from staff saying his father had been handcuffed by police.
Keith was allegedly left with red sores on his wrists following the ordeal on Wednesday, September 4, after officers from West Mercia Police were called to the scene.
Fitness instructor Leighton said: “We had dropped my father off at about 2.30pm on Tuesday afternoon.
Keith Hyrons: Police used handcuffs to restrain Alzheimer’s sufferer at Midland care home
“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. If they had got it right then they it would have saved a lot of needless worry not only to our family, but also the staff and residents at Howbury House.’’
But West Mercia Police has defended the use of handcuffs on the pensioner, which they claimed was to prevent harm to him and others.
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, which runs the home, said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases; we would encourage anyone who has concerns about any of our services to raise them with us.”
A spokesman for Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said: “It isn’t appropriate for us to comment on any specific case or individual.
“But to be detained or ‘sectioned’ someone must be suffering from a mental disorder which requires assessment or treatment and this needs to be given in hospital or in an inpatient environment in the interests of their own health or safety or to protect other people.
“If someone with Alzheimer’s’ is detained under the act then we will always ensure they are taken to the most appropriate setting, for example the New Haven Unit, where they can access the expert care and treatment they need.”
But David Ash, Area Manager for the Midlands at the Alzheimer’s Society, attacked the handcuffing incident.
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.’’
On Wednesday, loving wife Val will meet medics at Princess of Wales Community Hospital, Bromsgrove, where her husband is currently staying, to discuss allowing his possible return home.
She said: “In my opinion, since the incident my husband has gotten 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.
“I would hate for something like this to happen to anyone else.”