Nurse accused of letting patient touch her breasts and bottom
By Claire McKim
A NURSE allowed an elderly care home resident to put his hand up her top and touch her bottom, a disciplinary hearing was told last night.
A panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard that a care assistant had witnessed Badarmaine Garnett, known to her colleagues as “Ben”, allowing the patient to fondle her.
The 67-year-old is accused of sleeping whilst on duty and allowing care assistants to give medication to residents.
She is also alleged to have undressed a resident in public and in front of other residents and to have threatened a care assistant.
If found guilty of misconduct, Garnett faces being struck off the nursing register.
In a witness statement read by the NMC’s barrister Cassandra Scarborough, care assistant Cindy Fretwell said one resident of the care home “regularly put his hands down her top and touched her bottom and she [Garnett] wouldn’t do anything to stop him.”
The incidents are said to have happened at the Sunnybank Care Home in Aberdeenshire, where Garnett worked as a registered nurse for three months in 2008.
Garnett, who attended the hearing with her daughter, denied all the charges made against her.
Miss Scarborough told the hearing that the majority of alleged incidents occurred during night shift at the care home and were reported by night staff.
She said she had three written witness accounts of the incidents, although none of the witnesses were able to attend the hearing.
She said the charges against Garnett were evidence of “wide ranging failings”.
Miss Scarborough described a witness account by Nicola Emslie, a care assistant at the 30 bed home, who was unable to attend the hearing.
She said Garnett had told her: “If anything happens on this shift, like if a patient chokes and dies, then I will make sure you are held responsible.”
Miss Scarborough told of some of the alleged incidents described to her by witness Nicola Emslie.
She said: “She recalls being asked regularly to administer medication to residents. That she would regularly sleep whilst on duty. That resident E would frequently be kept on a chair downstairs and not put to bed. She told resident E to bugger off, and put his pyjamas on backwards.
“She threw blankets over resident H and called her a stupid woman.”
Nicola Emslie worked at Sunnybank Care Home as care assistant for three years.
In a statement she said workers at the Sunnybank referred to Miss Garnett as ‘Ben’.
She said had started to keep a diary of incidents involving Garnett. She read from some of these entries.
“One of the residents got very ill. I was asked by Ben if she had been checked? She said if anything happened on this shift, like if she chokes and dies then I will make sure you are held responsible. I thought this was a bit strange as she was the nurse in charge.
“Every time I would work with Ben she would sleep on average from 2am-5am. She would sometimes snore, I am certain she was asleep.”
Miss Emslie described an instance she alleged a patient was mistreated.
She said: “She [the resident] was in a lot of pain. She said Ben and another carer had moved her bed in the middle of the night and that Ben had scared her.”
“Ben made me feel intimidated and a liar. I was really unhappy working for her. I was scared she would make my job as hard as possible.”
Miss Scarborough said Cindy Fretwell, had corroborated parts of Miss Emslie’s accounts, confirming that she had regularly administrated medication to residents.
Cindy Fretwell worked as a night carer at Sunny bank for nearly four years.
In her statement she said initially it had been fine working for Miss Garnett, but that problems had soon appeared.
She said Garnett would often choose to undress a particular resident downstairs in front of another resident.
She said: “Nine times out of 10 Ben would get Resident E ready in the hoist downstairs and he would be naked.
“One time resident F was laughing at him and Ben found this funny.
“Resident H was very poorly and Ben would put her back in bed very aggressively.
She added that Garnett would often fall asleep while on shift.
She said: “Ben would sleep from anywhere from 11pm. She would always have some sleep, sometimes just two or three hours. On February 20 2008, Ben slept all night.
She said one resident would touch Garnett under her top and “get a hold of her boobs and bum and she just laughed, she would never stop him.”
The hearing heard that third witness, Lorraine Vanderheight, former manager at the care home, was also unable to attend the hearing.
Miss Scarborough explained, “The manager has since resigned and she has left the health centre completely. She does not wish to go over what happened at the nursing home.”
She said the council had taken reasonable steps to secure witnesses attendances but that it was “highly unlikely that witnesses would attend in the future”.
She went on to describe the allegations against Garnett as “very serious and involving a number of vulnerable elderly residents”.
Solicitor Jonathan Guy, representing Garnett, said his client was nearing retirement age and had no intention of returning to nursing. He said that she wanted to “clear her name”.
He said: “She has not worked since these allegations were made. She does not wish to return to nursing and hasn’t worked as a registered nurse for two years.
“She worked for 20 years as a registered nurse without any incidents.
“She is devastated that her nursing career be brought to an end due to these allegations.”
Mr Guy said Garnett felt the two care assistants, Miss Emslie and Miss Fretwell had made allegations against her after complaints had been made about the two.
Talking of the care assistants, he said: “She had caught then sleeping on duty and had reported them. She made these allegations as she had caught them doing the same thing. Fretwell was dismissed as a result and Emslie had been disciplined.”
The hearing continues.
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