Care worker appeals dismissal for taking newspaper from patient (93)
A NURSING home care worker was fired after he upset a 93-year-old dementia patient by taking her newspaper, allegedly to read on his break, a tribunal has heard.
Roy Hogan (40), from Dublin, had worked as a care assistant at Highfield Healthcare nursing home and psychiatric hospital in Whitehall, Dublin 9 since February 2010.
He took a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal for unfair dismissal after he had been fired from his job for gross misconduct in October 2012.
It is alleged that on August 28, 2012 Mr Hogan took a newspaper off a 93-year-old woman suffering from end-stage dementia, who has since died, causing her to become agitated.
Counsel for Mr Hogan said he took the newspaper from the woman in order to wash her hands.
Activity therapist Kevin Doyle witnessed the incident and gave evidence to the tribunal. He described the elderly woman as "a high-dependency resident" with limited movement and speech.
He said she read the newspaper every morning.
Mr Doyle told the tribunal, chaired by Peter J O'Leary, that the woman became "quite agitated" when the newspaper was taken from her and "pulled it back towards her" but nonetheless Mr Hogan then "took the newspaper and went on his break".
He said the son of another patient also witnessed the event and was shocked and very annoyed. Mr Doyle said that he considered the act to be "psychological abuse".
Mr Hogan was subsequently fired for gross misconduct. His appeal was unsuccessful.
Mr Doyle rejected suggestions that Mr Hogan took the newspaper in order to wash the woman's hands.
Another instance of neglect was laid against Mr Hogan for failing to clean up the same woman after she had vomited on a different occasion a few months previously.
That incident was witnessed by the woman's daughter who did not report it at the time, the tribunal was told.
HR manager Melanie Eustace said when the incident involving the newspaper was investigated, Mr Hogan didn't seem to take the allegations seriously and he gave no defence.
Counsel for Mr Hogan, Ann Sheridan, put it to her that the incident with the newspaper did not amount to gross misconduct, seeing as Mr Hogan was offered alternative employment within the company, in the laundry, rather than being fired on the spot.
Chief executive Stephen Eustace also gave evidence to the tribunal. He said there may have been minor procedural errors in the investigation process but added that the hospital had "zero tolerance for elder abuse".
The tribunal will continue on September 4 when Mr Hogan will be able to give evidence.