Care home nurse exposed vulnerable elderly to 'significant risk'

Elizabeth McAllister was also accused of using derogatory language when referring to residents.

Nurse suspended over derogatory remarks and ‘significant risk’ to elderly at East Dunbartonshire care home iStock

A nurse at an East Dunbartonshire care home has been suspended for using “derogatory” language towards elderly patients that she was also deemed to have exposed to “significant risk of unwarranted harm”.

Elizabeth Claire McAllister allegedly used derogatory and inappropriate language when speaking to residents at the Whitefield Lodge Care Home in Lennoxtown.

She was accused of calling residents at the home “b***h”, “lazy b*****d”, “witch” and “predator” on May 23 and 24, 2020.

It was also alleged that during handovers on and before May 23, she used inappropriate language when referring to residents in front of colleagues – including stating that one resident had been “lying in their own p**s and s**t”.

Mrs McAllister was also accused of general misconduct and dishonesty when it came to patient care.

When one person, dubbed Resident B to protect their anonymity, suffered a head injury, the registered nurse failed to clean the wound, conduct assessments of their wellbeing – including neurological – and then lied about the care provided on a Datix report.

It was also claimed that when another person, Resident D, fell over, she “demonstrated an unsympathetic attitude” by claiming that they had thrown themselves on the floor to “seek attention”.

Throughout McAllister’s employment at the home, she would routinely work night shifts on the upper floor – where the majority of patients suffered from dementia.

When, after complaints by colleagues, the care home initiated an investigation, she resigned. The investigation was then referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

In a response to the allegations, submitted ahead of a meeting where a panel would make a decision, McAllister admitted all of the charges against her.

She stated: “I have fully reflected on my actions and accept full responsibility for my practice, which fell way below the required standard expected by both the public and the governing body.”

She also said that she would be resigning from the profession entirely.

The panel found Mrs McAllister’s fitness to continue work as a registered nurse to be impaired, stating that any well-informed person would be “appalled” by her actions.

It said: “…public confidence in the nursing profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment was not made in this case.”

In her response statement, she said that she had been struggling greatly with her mental health at the time and failed to recognise that her personal trauma was having a negative impact on the level of care she provided.

She said: “I failed to address issues in my personal life, or my fluctuating mood and emotional state. These failures on my part put my patients at risk and resulted in my impaired conduct. Which I recognise was totally unacceptable.

“At an earlier hearing I made a full disclosure in relation to the traumatic events I experienced in my personal life. On reflection if I was in a similar situation I would [REDACTED].

“I fully accept that my conduct was wholly unacceptable, and that my fitness to practice was impaired.

“Prior to my current situation I had a long and exemplary nursing career in the NHS. I have previously submitted testimony from some of my line managers to support this.

“Following a long period of reflection I took the decision to retire from all types of employment, and submitted a request to be considered for voluntary removal from the register.

“Due to poor physical and mental health, at no point in the future will I be applying for work in any area, or re admittance to the Nursing Register.”

The NMC said the case was “finely balanced” between a suspension and a striking-off order.

It stated: “…this panel was mindful that it should impose the least restrictive sanction which was sufficient to meet the public protection and public interest considerations.

“In light of Mrs McAllister’s engagement, admissions, recent evidence of developing insight, and long career without previous regulatory findings, the panel considered that the balance at this stage lay in favour of temporary, rather than permanent removal from the NMC Register.

Elizabeth McAllister was given a 12-month suspension, with an 18-month interim suspension order for if she appealed the decision.

A spokesperson for Whitefield Lodge Care Home said: “We take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously and will always act swiftly in the best interest of our residents.

“As soon as we were made aware of these allegations, we took action to suspend the individual involved and referred the case to the NMC, in line with our processes.”

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