Carer who 'hit and threw' dementia patient's therapy doll struck off

When challenged by a colleague, Paula Lambert said her actions were 'funny'.

West Lothian carer who ‘hit and threw’ dementia patient’s therapy doll struck off iStock

A West Lothian carer who hit and threw a therapy doll belonging to a person with dementia has been struck off.

Paula Lambert was employed as a care assistant by HC-One at Redmill Nursing Home in Bathgate on or around November 15, 2019, when the incident occurred.

A hearing by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) decided that she had hit the empathy doll on its face and body, threw it on the floor, and forcefully poked the doll in its face.

Ms Lambert’s actions were carried out in the presence of the service user to whom the doll belonged.

When she was challenged by a colleague, Ms Lambert stated that “I do it all the time, it’s funny”.

Therapy or empathy dolls are often used to soothe and relax people with dementia, particularly in the later stages. It might remind them of a time when they had young children or a pet of their own.

Caring for a doll or soft toy can also give people with dementia a renewed sense of purpose and help them connect with the outside world.

The person with dementia may become very attached to their doll, and can be caused severe distress if anything happens to it.

The SSSC found that Ms Lambert’s behaviour showed a lack of respect for the service user, alongside a failure to treat them as an individual.

It added: “You have also failed, through your behaviour, to recognise the responsibility and authority you have when working with services users.

“You have also said that you ‘do it all the time, and it’s funny’. This is not appropriate and shows a disregard for the use and purpose of the therapy doll.”

The SSSC imposed a Removal Order on Ms Lambert, which will strike her off the register, on November 25.

A spokesperson for HC-One said: “As the Kind Care company, we treat all our residents with the utmost respect, and we do not tolerate the kind of distressing behaviour exhibited by this individual, who no longer works for HC-One in any capacity.

“At the time of this historic incident, we took immediate action, referring the incident to the SSSC and all relevant authorities ourselves. We have worked closely with them throughout their ongoing inquiries.

“We support the decision of the SSSC to issue a removal order, and we will always support action being taken to protect the dignity and wellbeing of older people in care.”

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