A DAY care centre manager made herself “unapproachable” and accused her team of “backstabbing” when they reported a care worker for dragging a disabled man across a room, a court heard.
Barbara Sykes (64) is on trial accused of neglecting ten clients, aged between 18 and 66, between 2008 and 2017, at the Reach Day Centre, based at the Elliott Centre on Badsley Moor Lane.
Support worker Dawn Harland, who worked at Reach Day Centre for about ten years, told a jury at Sheffield Crown Court today (Tuesday): “[Sykes] had quite an unapproachable management style, not initially but as time went on.
“You couldn’t go to her with problems, or if you had problems with service users.
“It was deemed you weren’t trying, you were just inadequate — we were made to feel as if we weren’t performing properly.”
Prosecutor Mr Tom Storey said: “How did Sykes treat other members of staff?”
Ms Harland said: “Not very well — she would berate people in front of other people — it wasn’t done privately.”
The court heard that Ms Harland’s former colleague, Simon Parkin, had dragged a service user across a room in October 2013 and had been prosecuted for it.
Ms Harland said she had been “made to feel bad” for reporting the incident to Rotherham Council’s safeguarding team.
“It was mentioned that people were backstabbing, that we had spoken out of turn,” she said.
“It was made very clear that the person that got sacked shouldn’t have got sacked.”
Mr Storey asked Ms Harland about an incident in which she and two other colleagues had to restrain a service user who had become violent because of disruption to his routine.
She said he had begun to calm down before Sykes walked into the room and put her arm around his chest.
When asked whether Sykes’ actions had been part of the approved procedure for restraints, she said: “Not as far as I know”.
Under cross-examination by Sykes’ barrister, Mr Patrick Williamson, Ms Harland rejected a suggestion that Sykes’ arm had been under the client’s chin, rather than around his chest, in order to stop him from biting members of staff.
Ms Harland said another service user, who would become fixated on members of staff, had grabbed her arms.
She said that at lunchtime that day the service user had been seated away from others and he did not come back to the centre for another two days, when he was still being seated apart.
Ms Harland said she believed he was being seated away from others because of the incident.
Mr Storey said: “How would you describe the way she [Sykes] treated clients?”
Ms Harland said: “I think she could be quite abrupt with them.
“It was her way or no way — I don’t think she saw it from other people’s point of view."
Sykes’ assistant manager, Julie Paul-Slack (56), of Middle Lane, Clifton, is on trial alongside her for ill-treatment of a person lacking mental capacity and wilful neglect of a person lacking mental capacity.
Both defendants deny all of the charges.
The trial continues.