A CARE home boss ran an “institutionalised” care home where residents with dementia were sedated with drugs hidden in their meals, a hearing was told.

Meal times at the Victoria House Care Centre were “appallingly organised” and 15 out of 17 residents lost vast amounts of weight over a one-month period, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

Janet Foster allegedly told staff to send residents to bed at 8pm, regardless of whether they were tired and refused to let them see a singer perform at the home in Bath Lane, Stockton.

Foster denies a catalogue of charges, including failing to ensure patient medication records were adequately maintained and failing to prevent residents from losing weight.

She also denies failing to make adequate referrals to GPs and dieticians over the weight loss and encouraging staff to carry out showering of residents only on allocated days.

Foster further denies instructing staff to administer medication to residents covertly in their meals and or with their sweets.

Jean Tomlinson, a quality inspector, told the London hearing: ‘The ward was very institutionalised. A lot of them seemed sedated – the staff just weren’t treating them properly.

“The weight log showed vast amounts of weight loss between November and December 2009, with 15 out of 17 patients losing weight.

“I found the meal times were appallingly organised.

Residents were just getting up and walking away, and no one was checking to see if they had finished.

“In my opinion, Ms Foster had no leadership skills at all.”

Ms Tomlinson said she introduced changes to the meals which resulted in the weight of only one patient dropping in March last year.

Ms Foster was dismissed in March 2010 after Ms Tomlinson’s inspection.

At the time of the alleged incidents, between July 2009 and February 2010, the home was run by Darlington- based Southern Cross, which collapsed in 2011.

Ms Foster admits not reporting a fight between two residents and instructing day staff to administer night medicine at the end of their shifts.

She denies the remainder of the charges against her, including one alleging that she instructed staff not to allow residents to attend a performance given by a singer at the home.

If the panel finds her fitness to practise impaired, she faces being struck off from the nursing profession.

The hearing continues.