Attracta worker had moved to nursing role without any training
Published 09/01/2016 | 02:30
A health care assistant accused of assaulting a patient with the mental age of a toddler went from being a domestic worker to a nurse assistant without any proper training.
Kathleen King denies one charge of assault against Miss C, who has severe physical difficulties and the intellectual age of a two or three-year-old child,
Castlebar Distict Court saw footage of Ms King pushing Miss C back into a chair at Áras Attracta in Co Mayo and hitting her on the face with a piece of paper, saying: "Don't you dare come out of that chair."
Ms King said she was trying to keep Miss C, who has severe osteoporosis, from sliding out of her chair onto the floor and suffering an injury.
"All I wanted to do was keep this poor woman on the chair to keep her safe, that's what I was trying to do. If she broke a hip I'd be in trouble and my job would be on the line and I really didn't want that to happen," said Ms King, (56) Knockshanvally Straide, Foxford, Co Mayo.
She said she did not recall the incident and described hitting Miss C with the paper as a "spontaneous reaction". When pressed she said she would "probably agree" it was unacceptable but denied it was an assault.
Ms King said she had moved from a domestic assistant to a care assistant with no training, despite requesting such. A Fetac Level Five course on care and communicating was not mandatory at the time. When asked by the prosecution what course she needed to tell her her actions were wrong, Ms King replied: "I'm sure there is no course".
The court also saw footage of Joan Walsh (42) Carrowilkeen, Curry, Co Sligo, slapping a non-verbal resident who was seeking her attention, and lifting the same resident, Miss B, and dropping her into a chair.
Ms Walsh, the nurse in charge of Bungalow 3, said she had no recollection of the incident but regretted it, describing it as "poor practice and poor judgement". She said all staff had been very fond of Miss B, who had lived in care all her life.
Ms Walsh, who worked in Áras Attracta since 2000, said she had raised concerns about resources at the unit on the morning of the incident. She said she had found working conditions very stressful. It was claimed staff were "terrified for the safety" of undercover reporter Caoimhe Delaney, believing her to be a student nurse put in a dangerous position.
Five care staff deny one charge each of assault against residents. Judge Mary Devins is considering the case against Ms King, Ms Walsh and a Pat McLoughlin. She has excused herself from one case and is considering a similar application against the fifth.