An elderly man rolls along in his wheelchair at the Santovenia Asylum in Havana July 6, 2009.
Four care workers were sentenced for abusing patients between May 2010 and September 2011Reuters

Four care workers have been sentenced for abusing elderly patients at the Hillcroft care home in Lancaster.

The abuse took place at the nursing home between May 2010 and September 2011, in Slyne-with-Hest near Lancaster. Residents with advanced Alzheimer's in the Challenging Behavioural Unit were mocked, bullied and tormented.

Darren Smith, 35, was sentenced to eight months after pleading guilty at Preston Crown Court. He had admitted eight counts of ill-treatment and on one occasion was seen in bed with a distressed resident.

Katie Cairns, 27, was jailed for five months on three charges. Carol Moore, 54, was sentenced to four months and found guilty of striking a resident on an occasion.

Gemma Pearson, 28, was handed a 12-month community order. She was guilty of tipping an elderly victim out of a wheelchair and was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service.

The defendants were charged with ill-treatment and wilful neglect of a person with a lack of capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

They were suspended from working at the home after a receptionist and a cleaner made allegations against them in September 2011. They returned to work shortly afterwards under official warning but the issue was not referred to the police or social services until months afterwards.

The court heard other accounts of the maltreatment of the residents, which included one man having his foot stamped on deliberately. The workers also threw objects at the victims, such as bean bags and balls, for "entertainment".

The offences were against seven men and one woman aged between 70 and 85.

Michael Rowlinson, whose father Norman suffers from Alzheimer's disease, said: "We had feelings of guilt for not being able to look after him.

"Our feelings of guilt only worsened when we found out that dad had been subjected to humiliation and ill-treatment by those who were trusted to care for him.

"We feel angry this could have been allowed to happen to dad and sorry that mum had to learn about it."